Most fish probably cringe at the idea of beaching themselves on purpose, especially since they can’t breathe out of water. But this is something that the grunion fish does rather frequently, namely when it comes time to mate.
When females are ready to lay eggs, they’ll beach themselves on the warm beach sands and drill their bodies straight down into the sand to lay their eggs safely beneath the surface. They’ll attempt to get as far up on the beach as they can to keep their eggs safe from the ocean’s waves. The males, however, aren’t far behind.
Once a male grunion fish finds a female starting her drilling technique, he wraps his body around her’s to fertilize her eggs. After the deed is done, both the male and the female attempt to squiggle their way back to sea, evading predators along the way.
Smaller birds will gather at the site of so many beached fish, but their attempts to capture prey are often interrupted by the confusing movements of all the fish in one place. Larger birds, like pelicans, aren’t so easily fooled, however. They wait for the fish to return to sea, and then using their extra-long bills, they go bobbing for fish.
Fortunately, the grunion fish managed to lay their eggs and invoke reproduction before they could be eaten, so their efforts didn’t go to waste.