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Category: Nature

Meet the Grunion program Friday night at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Grunion scramble to get onto the beach to spawn.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro will be holding its Meet the Grunion program Friday night.

The aquarium exhibit hall will open at 8 p.m., with a film on grunion to be screened at 9. Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for seniors, children and students. Tickets can be purchased at the door (cash only).

Afterward, those who wish to participate will head to the beach to await the spawning run, which has a projected two-hour window of 10:35 p.m. to 12:35 a.m.

Grunion runs are a sight to behold. For four consecutive nights, beginning on full and new moon phases during spring and summer, the small silvery fish leave the water to spawn on beaches. The shoreline may glisten with fish as the silversides attempt to lay and fertilize their eggs.

Grunion may only be caught in the months of March, June and July, and only by hand. Catchers 16 and older must possess a valid state fishing license.

There is no limit to the number of fish that may be caught, but the California Department of Fish and Game asks that people only catch what they will eat.

The program will be offered again June 17 and July 16.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is at 3720 Stephen M. White Drive in San Pedro. Directions and parking information is available on the aquarium's website.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Grunion scramble to get onto the beach to spawn. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times


Fish and Game Q&A: Is it legal to use lights to monitor wildlife if you do not have any guns in your possession?

Two fawns nurse as a doe takes advantage of a late night snack.

In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: Is it legal to use lights to monitor wildlife if you do not have any guns in your possession? Watching wildlife at night is a very interesting way to educate kids to be on the lookout for and gain an interest in wildlife. I’ve always wondered if using lights to do this would be considered harassment somehow and not be allowed? (Bill T.)

Answer: It is not illegal to shine lights since you won’t have a "method of take" with you, but your activities could alert a game warden who might think you are using the spotlights to poach game at night. Be aware that there are vehicle code laws that prohibit shining a hand-held spotlight from a motor vehicle and another provision that requires "off road" lights to be covered while traveling on a public roadway or highway.

Instead, you might consider using a trail cam like those sold through most outdoor-gear stores. These will allow you to capture (with night-vision equipment) images or video of wildlife that might be visiting a watering hole or passing through an area. There are some cameras that take photos when a light sensor is tripped and some that take photos at certain time intervals. The trail cams would not bother or harass the wildlife, and you’d be able to take photos of them while they are acting normally, doing whatever they naturally do at night. You might also be surprised by the different species that will appear that you probably would not expect!

Q: I helped my boss, who is legally blind, get a disabled license for fishing. However, due to her disability, she will need help baiting her hook. Can I legally help her without needing a two-pole stamp? (Sandy B.)

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Department of Fish and Game offers tips on staying safe in bear country

A young black bear foraging in the Falls Picnic Area caused the closure of parts of San Bernardino National Forest in 2009. Campers, anglers and hikers enjoying the outdoors may have encounters with wild animals -- including black bears, which are estimated to number 40,000 in California. Certain precautions can and should be taken when it comes to interaction with these omnivores, especially by limiting food odors that attract bears.

"Bears are constantly in search of easily obtainable food sources," said Marc Kenyon, California Department of Fish and Game statewide bear program coordinator. "A bear’s fate is almost always sealed once it associates human activity with potential food. It’s always unfortunate when a bear has to be killed because people either haven’t learned how to appropriately store food and trash, or simply don’t care."

The California Department of Fish and Game shares the following precautionary tips that should be taken when in bear country:

-- Keep a clean camp by cleaning up and storing food and garbage immediately after meals.

-- Never keep food in your tent. Instead, store food and toiletries in bear-proof containers or in an airtight container in the trunk of your vehicle.

-- Use bear-proof garbage cans whenever possible or store your garbage in a secure location with your food.

-- Don’t bury or burn excess food; bears will still be attracted to the residual smell.

-- Garbage should be packed out of camp if no trash receptacles are available.

-- While hiking, make noise to avoid a surprise encounter with a bear.

-- Keep a close watch on children and teach them what to do if they encounter a bear.

-- Never approach a bear, pick up a bear cub or attempt to attract a bear to your location; observe the animal and take pictures from afar.

-- If you encounter a bear, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to appear as large as possible.

-- If attacked, fight back; if a bear harms a person in any way, immediately call 911.

The Department of Fish and Game’s Keep Me Wild campaign was developed in part to address the increasing number of conflicts between black bears and people, and provides further tips for living and visiting safely in bear habitat.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: A young black bear foraging in the Falls Picnic Area caused the closure of parts of San Bernardino National Forest in 2009. Credit: California Department of Fish and Game  

'Grunion Fish-tival' Thursday at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Grunion come ashore to spawn twice a month during spring and summer.Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro will hold a special "Grunion Fish-tival" on Thursday at 7 p.m. to supplement its regular "Meet the Grunion" program. The evening will include a film on grunion as well as the added opportunity to hatch grunion eggs, make grunion origami and other arts and crafts and interact with grunion researchers.

The cost to attend is $5 for adults and $1 for seniors, children and students. Tickets can be purchased onsite (cash only).

Afterward, those who wish to participate will head to the beach to await the spawning run, which has a projected two-hour window of 11:05 p.m. to 1:05 a.m.

Grunion may only be caught in the months of March, June and July; because grunion are not in season now, the outing is for observation only.

Runs are a sight to behold. For four consecutive nights, beginning on full- and new-moon phases during spring and summer, the small, silvery fish leave the water to spawn on beaches. The shoreline may glisten with fish as the silversides attempt to lay and fertilize their eggs.

There is no limit to the number of fish that may be caught during open season (the next one begins June 3), but the California Department of Fish and Game asks that people catch only what they will eat. Catchers 16 and older must possess a valid state fishing license.

The program will be offered again on June 3 and 17 and July 16.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is at 3720 Stephen M. White Drive in San Pedro. Directions and parking information are available on the website.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Grunion come ashore to spawn twice a month during spring and summer. Credit: Gary Florin / Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Fish and Game department reminds Californians about rattlesnakes

Mojave rattlesnake

California is home to more than half a dozen species of rattlesnakes. As the weather warms the state's only native venomous snake becomes more active, increasing the likelihood of their being encountered both in the wilderness and in residential areas.

While the odds of being bitten by a rattlesnake are slim (there are about 800 cases nationwide reported annually to the American Assn. of Poison Control Centers) and should not deter anyone from venturing outdoors, the California Department of Fish and Game shares the following precautionary tips which can lessen the chance of being bitten when out in snake country:

-- Wear hiking boots and loose-fitting long pants. Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.

-- When hiking, stick to well-used trails. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.

-- Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step on logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood. 

-- Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.

-- Never grab "sticks" or "branches" while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.

-- Be careful when stepping over door sills as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edges of buildings where they are protected on one side.

-- Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.

-- Do not handle a freshly killed snake, as it can still inject venom.

-- Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone.

Information on rattlesnake identification and what to do in the event of a snake bite can be found on the California Poison Control website.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Mojave rattlesnake. Credit: George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times

 

'Meet the Grunion' Thursday at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Grunion spawn on the beaches during the annual grunion run. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro will be holding its "Meet the Grunion" program on Thursday.

The aquarium exhibit hall will open at 8 p.m., with a film on grunion to be screened at 9. The cost to attend is $5 for adults and $1 for seniors, children and students. Tickets can be purchased on site (cash only).

Afterward, those who wish to participate will head to the beach to await the spawning run, which has a projected two-hour window of 10:45 p.m. to 12:45 a.m.

Grunion may only be caught in the months of March, June and July; since this is closed season, the outing is for observation only.

Runs are a sight to behold. For four consecutive nights, beginning on full- and new-moon phases during spring and summer, the small, silvery fish leave the water to spawn on beaches. The shoreline may glisten with fish as the silversides attempt to lay and fertilize their eggs.

There is no limit to the number of fish that may be caught during open season (the next one begins June 3), but the California Department of Fish and Game asks that people only catch what they will eat. Catchers 16 and older must possess a valid state fishing license.

The program will be offered again on May 19, June 3 and 17 and July 16.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is at 3720 Stephen M. White Drive in San Pedro. Directions and parking information are available on the website.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Grunion spawn on the beaches during the annual grunion run. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times


'Meet the Grunion' program at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

A grunion burrows into the sand to lay her eggs. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro will be holding its "Meet the Grunion" program on Tuesday.

The aquarium exhibit hall will open at 8 p.m., with a film on grunion to be screened at 9. The cost to attend is $5 for adults and $1 for seniors, children and students. Tickets can be purchased on site (cash only).

Afterward, those who wish to participate will head to the beach to await the spawning run, which has a projected two-hour window of 10:45 p.m. to 12:45 a.m.

Grunion may only be caught in the months of March, June and July, so since this is closed season, it will be a observation only.

Runs are a sight to behold. For four consecutive nights, beginning on full- and new-moon phases during spring and summer, the small, silvery fish leave the water to spawn on beaches. The shoreline may glisten with fish as the silversides attempt to lay and fertilize their eggs.

There is no limit to the number of fish that may be caught during open season (the next one begins June 3), but the California Department of Fish and Game asks that people only catch what they will eat. Catchers 16 and older must possess a valid state fishing license.

The program will be offered again on May 5 and 19, June 3 and 17 and July 16.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is at 3720 Stephen M. White Drive in San Pedro. Directions and parking information is available on the website.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: A grunion burrows into the sand to lay her eggs. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Fish and Game Q&A: May I plant wild turkeys on private land?

Turkey_strut In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: I have a few questions about putting Eastern wild turkey poults out on private land. I just love to hunt them. There are turkeys out there already but I would like for there to be a lot more. How or what can be done to get more turkeys planted on the property? (Joe D.)

Answer: Permission will not be granted to any person to release turkeys into the wild that have been domestically reared for propagation or hunting purposes. Only turkeys trapped from the wild by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) may be released into the wild (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 671.6 (b)).

According to DFG turkey program manager Scott Gardner, besides being illegal, releasing captive-reared turkey poults will not ultimately produce more turkeys in the wild, and could actually harm the wild population. Beginning in the 1920s, DFG raised turkeys and other game birds and released them into the wild. By 1951, DFG and other wildlife agencies stopped the practice because it wasn’t resulting in self-sustaining wild populations of turkeys. In 1959, DFG started importing and releasing the Rio Grande subspecies of wild turkeys that were trapped in the wild in Texas. Wild trapped birds were highly successful and virtually all of California’s current wild turkey population came from these releases.

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Santa Monica Mountains Science Festival to be held at Paramount Ranch

A young visitor examines a coast sunflower, native to the Santa Monica Mountains, at last year's Science Festival. The second annual Santa Monica Mountains Science Festival begins Friday evening at Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills.

Sponsored by the National Park Service in partnership with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and California Science Center, the free festival will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and will give attendees a chance to ask and learn about the flora and fauna of one of our local national parks.

Friday's nocturnal activities include a campfire singalong; a lantern-led tour of Western Town; a night-sky program; and a nighttime hike to learn about animals that come out after dark, with the opportunity to identify bats, bugs and owls.

Saturday's events will include special presentations on native plant and animal species in the Santa Monica Mountains, bird and plant identification walks and hands-on demonstrations for children and adults. There  also will be live animal shows, bird watching and booths and games to inform and entertain.

The number of food vendors on site will be limited, so attendees are encouraged to bring their own food and water, as well as any personal comfort items, such as jackets, sunscreen, sunglasses and hats.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: A young visitor examines a coast sunflower, native to the Santa Monica Mountains, at last year's Science Festival. Credit: Phil Crosby

Fish and Game Q&A: Might it be time to consider a mountain lion hunting season?

Mountain lion In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: I am looking for some information on the seriousness of the apparent increase in mountain lion attacks in the news lately. There have been several incidents of bears attacking humans, and we have a bear season. I’m wondering if it might not be time to reconsider having a mountain lion season? I understand that more mountain lions are killed each year now with depredation permits than were ever killed with a mountain lion season.

What can you tell me about the population increase in mountain lions in California in the past 10 years or so? Would it require legislation to overturn the existing law? Would Department of Fish and Game  data support the need for such a reversal? (Bill T.)

Answer: It’s important to note that mountain lion (puma) attacks on humans are very rare. In the last decade, there have been only four confirmed attacks in California, three of which were nonfatal. Though you may be seeing more media coverage of mountain lion attacks on domestic animals, there’s no evidence that the number of these incidents is increasing. While DFG does not formally track the number of domestic animals killed by pumas, we do keep track of the number of depredation permits issued for problem mountain lions. The numbers of depredation permits issued and resulting pumas killed have actually been fewer in recent years, though.

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'Shark Men' premieres Sunday on National Geographic Channel

Expedition leader Chris Fischer, marine biologist Michael Domeier and crew are back for another season of "Shark Men," premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. on National Geographic Channel with two hourlong episodes. Additional episodes will follow, airing at 10 p.m. on Sunday nights through June 12.

Though the name of the series has changed (it was “Expedition Great White” last year) the focus is still the same -- attempting to learn more about the mysterious great white shark and its life cycle -- where the sharks are born, where they migrate, how they mate, and where they congregate.

Using a specially designed, 126-foot-long mothership that includes a 37-ton hydraulic platform for hoisting a living shark out of the ocean, the crew returns to Mexico's Guadalupe Island, 160 miles west of Baja California, in the hopes of landing, tagging and releasing sharks -- specifically females -- alive. This season, they also secure a permit to hook a white shark at Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, off the coast of San Francisco, and also travel to just off the shores of Malibu, hoping to catch juvenile great white sharks in an effort to learn more about the younger years of the apex predator's life cycle. 

"Shark Men" episode descriptions through April are after the jump (the rest of the descriptions are still pending):

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Extreme angler Jeremy Wade back for third season of 'River Monsters' beginning April 10 on Animal Planet

Jeremy Wade shows the jaws of a piranha that was caught in Brazil's Tocantins River. Extreme angler and biologist Jeremy Wade is back, tracking down and fishing for some of the most threatening-looking freshwater fish worldwide for season three of "River Monsters," premiering April 10 at 10 p.m. on Animal Planet.

"This season, I get into even more unfamiliar territory," Wade said in a press release. "The destinations are diverse, the stories strange, and the fish every bit as fearsome but in unexpected ways. I encountered fish with invisible powers, others that live to a century, the largest true freshwater fish so far and the longest struggle I’ve had with a live fish to date."

This season will feature seven new episodes plus two specials, "Tribal Fishing" and "Most Bizarre."

The "River Monsters" series schedule and episode descriptions are after the jump.

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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