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Category: Science

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


'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

'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

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

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.

Continue reading »

Great Backyard Bird Count begins Friday

Flowers attract a hummingbird.

It's time to break out the binoculars, birding books and notepads and get outside in the name of science.

Birding enthusiasts both novice and expert are encouraged to participate in the 14th annual Great Backyard Bird Count Friday through Monday across the U.S. and Canada.

"Whether people notice birds in backyards, parks or wilderness areas, we ask that they share their counts," said Judy Braus, Audubon’s senior vice president of Education and Centers. "It’s fun and rewarding for people of all ages and skill levels."

A joint project of the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada, it's an opportunity for people to monitor the bird activity in their neighborhoods. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes, or for as long as they wish, on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online.

"When thousands of people all tell us what they’re seeing, we can detect changes in birds' numbers and locations from year to year," said Janis Dickinson, director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Last year, birders turned in 97,200 checklists -- a nearly 4% increase over the prior year -- identified 602 species and counted 11.2 million individual birds.

The GBBC website is chock-full of useful information, including printable regional tally sheets, frequently asked questions and information on entering the annual photo contest.

The survey is conducted in February to provide a snapshot of how birds are surviving the winter and where they are located just before spring migrations begin in March.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Flowers attract a hummingbird. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

U.S. led the world in shark attacks last year

Great white shark prowls the waters near Guadalupe Island off Baja California.

The U.S. led the world again in the number of shark attacks last year, according to a University of Florida report released this week.

Worldwide, 79 attacks occurred in 2010 -- the highest number since 2000 (80) -- with 36 reported in the United States. Australia was second with 14, then South Africa with eight and Vietnam and Egypt with six each.

While Florida led the nation with 13 reported attacks, this total was significantly lower than the state's yearly average of 23 over the past decade.

"Florida had its lowest total since 2004, which was 12," said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the university. Florida typically has the highest number of attacks worldwide, but 2010 marked the state’s fourth straight year of decline, Burgess said. "Maybe it’s a reflection of the downturn in the economy and the number of tourists coming to Florida, or the amount of money native Floridians can spend taking holidays and going to the beach."

Of those attacks in the U.S. outside of Florida, five were in North Carolina, with four each in California, Hawaii and South Carolina. There were single attacks in Georgia, Maine, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Surfers were the victims of slightly more than half of the incidents reported worldwide in 2010, nearly 51% of the cases. An economic downturn will usually influence tourists but not necessarily surfers, whose sport is relatively low-cost, Burgess said.

Swimmers and waders were the second-largest group affected, accounting for nearly 38% of the shark attacks internationally.

Continue reading »

Study suggesting sharks are color-blind could help prevent attacks

Shark New research on how sharks see suggests that the predators are color-blind, a discovery that may help prevent attacks on surfers, swimmers and other ocean-sport enthusiasts.

Using a technique called micro-spectrophotometry -- which measured the light-sensitive cells in the eyes -- the joint study, conducted by researchers from the University of Western Australia and the University of Queensland, looked at the potential for color vision in numerous shark species caught off Queensland and Western Australia and concluded that they have only one type of cone photoreceptor in the retina.

"Humans have three cone types that are sensitive to blue, green and red light, respectively, and by comparing signals from the different cone types we get the sensation of color vision," Nathan Hart, associate research professor at the University of Western Australia, said in a news release. "However, we found that sharks have only a single cone type and by conventional reckoning this means that they don't have color vision."

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Audubon's annual Christmas Bird Count begins Tuesday

An Anna's hummingbird feeds within the upper reaches of Leo Carrillo State Park north of Malibu.

Birding enthusiasts nationwide are encouraged to participate in the 111th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, believed to be the longest-running wildlife census in the world.

The citizen project, which begins Tuesday and runs through Jan. 5, 2011, helps scientists assess the size of bird populations in local communities.

Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile-diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. It’s not just a species tally -- all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day. If observers live within a CBC circle, they may arrange in advance to count the birds at their feeders and submit those data to their compiler.

Those interested in participating, be it at home or with a field party, need to register in advance. There is a $5 fee per field participant per count. Feeder watchers do not need to pay the fee, and all observers 18 and younger may count for free. Fees go toward funding the program and to help cover costs of generating materials, producing the annual summary and maintaining the CBC website and database.

A few of the frequently asked questions and answers posted on the Audobon website regarding the Christmas Bird Count are after the jump:

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Assn. of Surfing Professionals iPhone app now 99 cents

Wrightiphone_rcp400

The Assn. of Surfing Professionals iPhone application, ASPtogo, has been reduced from $4.99 to 99 cents, courtesy of Rip Curl International, for the remainder of the 2010 ASP World Tour and ASP Women's World Tour seasons -- including the upcoming Rip Curl Pro Portugal, Oct. 7 through 18 in Peniche.

The application, available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and the iPad, allows access to all ASP events and circuits.

In addition to providing the user with live scores, heat results, photos and videos, the app also offers the ability to connect to live video feeds of events.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: ASP World Tour surfer Owen Wright shows off the iPhone application ASPtogo, which allows users to check out the world’s best surfers in all ASP circuit events. Credit: © ASP / Scholtz

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ASP surfing? There's an app for that

'Shark Week' is back on Discovery Channel beginning Sunday

Shark1

It's time once again for "Shark Week" on Discovery Channel, and this year's lineup looks to have some teeth.

The series kicks off its 23rd season Sunday at 9 p.m. with "Ultimate Air Jaws" and a return to the coast of South Africa, where great white sharks are known to breach with almost no warning, pulling sneak attacks on the seals that congregate there.

10 years ago, Discovery Channel premiered "Air Jaws," which explored this phenomenon -- an episode that still remains the fifth most-watched of the series. This year, producer Jeff Kurr returns to the scene to investigate the aerial attacks, this time armed with state-of-the-art equipment, including an HD camera that shoots in super slow motion -- 2,000 frames per second, which is 20 to 30 times slower than "typical" slow-motion footage.

Kurr and shark expert Chris Fallows slow down the footage of a breaching shark from 1 second in real time to almost a minute. The amazing resolution provides so much detail that you can count every tooth in the shark’s mouth. Fallows and Kurr also employ a submarine and remotely operated helicopter to capture this incredible footage.

Other episodes this week are sure to inform and amaze, including getting up close for a shark bite, where viewers literally end up inside the jaws of sharks; shark attacks and how best to survive one (including interviews with six people who did); and a look at the 2008 shark attacks which took place along the coast of California and Mexico, when sharks mistook four people for prey.

Hopefully the series will shed some light on this often-feared and mysterious predator of the deep, informing viewers about threats currently facing plummeting shark populations and inspiring them to help with shark conservation efforts.

The "Shark Week" series schedule and episode descriptions are after the jump.

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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