Nighttime cleanup operations at Southern California beaches suspended due to grunion runs

MALIBU, Calif. (KABC) -- The U.S. Coast Guard has temporarily suspended cleanup operations of tar balls on beaches in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties at nighttime so that grunion can spawn on the sand.

The small sardine-sized fish are among the species of fish that actually come ashore to lay eggs in the sand, primarily at night.

Cleanup crews still scooping up small amounts of tar balls that washed ashore last week on Southern California beaches are keeping that in mind.

"We do have wildlife considerations and so we're not cleaning at nightfall," said U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Michael Anderson.

Officials expect the grunion to continue spawning through Friday.

Wildlife officials say tar balls have the potential to impact beach and nearshore animals, including California grunion. The Coast Guard says teams have bagged up enough balls to fill three dump trucks since the cleanup effort began.

Crews were cleaning up what's left of the tar balls at Zuma Beach on Tuesday.

"Yesterday, we had a team here of about 30 people," Anderson said. "We had a team in Manhattan Beach of about 23 people and a team in Redondo Beach of about 20 people, and so in total we had about 70 people up and down the coastline just doing that spot cleaning."

The Coast Guard will continue monitoring the beaches until scientists figure out where the tar balls originated from.

"We have Interagency, Coast Guard and California Department of Fish and Wildlife teams walking up and down the beach assessing them, seeing if there's anything out of the ordinary, and we're going to continue doing that through Friday, and then we're going to reassess to see exactly where we're at," Anderson said.

Wildlife officials say grunion spawning season runs from April to August at the highest tide, which can last for several days at a time.
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