Thousands of ‘penis fish’ have washed up on a California beach after being washed ashore in a storm.
The pink like sausage creatures, otherwise known as the echuira worm, was discovered washed ashore a beach 50 miles north of San Fransico, as reported by Bay Nature.
These phallic, pulsating creatures are reportedly marine worms called fat innkeeper worms, but are now being labelled the ‘penis fish’.
Typically burrowed underneath the sand, deep underneath the feet of beachgoers, these 10in wigglers have been exposed due to recent storms.
The fat innkeeper worms are known for the U-shaped burrows that they create, which they leave behind for other creatures.
Known to live up to 25 years, the fat innkeeper worms survive by eating plankton, bacteria and other small particles that are found at the bottom of the sea. They can capture food by making ‘slime nets’ that are placed in the water.
The creature is often prey to seagulls, otters, sharks and rays. But they aren’t the only creatures that gobble up the phallic, throbbing fish.
Sightings of the worm are very rare in the US, however, in places such as South Korea, Japan and China, the ‘penis fish’ is also considered a human delicacy that can be consumed either cooked or raw. Often, the creature is served with a savoury sauce such as sesame oil or vinegar.
Those that have eaten the ‘penis fish’ have described it as salty and chewy. Yummy.
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SHOOK 😳 Thousands of these marine worms—called fat innkeeper worms, or “penis fish”—were found on Drake’s Beach last week! These phallic organisms are quite common along the West coast of North America, but they spend their whole lives in U-shaped burrows under the sand, so few beachgoers are aware of their existence. ⛈🌊 A recent storm in Northern California brought strong waves that washed away several feet of sand from the intertidal zone, leaving all these fat innkeeper worms exposed on the surface. 🏖 Next time you go to the beach, just think about the hundreds of 10-inch, pink sausages wiggling around just a few feet under the sand. 🙃 . . Get the full story in our new #AsktheNaturalist with @california_natural_history via link in bio! (📸: Beach photo courtesy David Ford; Worm photo by Kate Montana via iNaturalist)
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The Korean name for this curious creature is gaebul, which translates as “dog dick.” Here in the States, it’s known as the fat innkeeper worm or the penis fish. Its scientific binomial is Urechis caupo, or “viper tail tradesman.” Whatever you call the animal, you can find them in abundance at Bodega Bay, where they build burrows in the tidal mud flats. On Saturday afternoon, our small, but enthusiastic clamming/crabbing crew thrust shovels and shoulder-deep arms into that mud in pursuit of Pacific gaper clams (Tresus nuttallii), but we also pulled up at least twenty of these red rockets. We returned them to their subterranean homes – excepting those that were snatched by eager herring gulls. I learned later that the gulls were the smarter hunters; fat innkeepers are edible, and are even considered a delicacy in Korea. Still, even though we missed out on a prime opportunity to dine on dog dick, we had a successful, fun outing, encountering a number of curious species, some of which now reside my belly. ⊙ What you’re looking at here: • Fat innkeeper worm (Urechis caupo) • A ring of prominent setae on the butt end of the fat innkeeper worm (Urechis caupo) • Bay ghost shrimp (Neotrypaea californiensis) • Lewis’s moon snail (Euspira lewisii) • Bucket filled w/ Pacific gaper clams or “horsenecks” (Tresus nuttallii), white macoma or “sand clams” (Macoma secta), and Lewis’s moon snails • Red rock crabs (Cancer productus) back in the kitchen, icing after boiling ๑ ๑ ๑ ๑ ๑ #BodegaBay #gaebul #FatInnkeeperWorm #UrechisCaupo #BayGhostShrimp #NeotrypaeaCaliforniensis #LewissMoonSnail #EuspiraLewisii #PacificGgaperClam #TresusNuttallii #RedRockCrab #CancerProductus #crabbing #clamming #huntergatherer #SonomaCounty #California #naturalhistory
The creature was discovered covering Drakes Beach, in Inverness, by a biologist named Ivan Parr on December 6.
Mr Parr wrote in the science publication Bay Nature that the same phenomenon had been seen at other coastlines, including Moss Landing, Bodega Bay and Princeton Harbor.
Mr Parr continued: ‘I’ve heard my share of imaginative theories from beachcombers, such as flotsam of a wrecked bratwurst freighter.
‘In truth, these are living denizens of our beaches rudely, yet also mercifully, mostly called “fat innkeeper worms”.’
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Aimee is a Media & Communications graduate from Birmingham City University with a passion for everything related to cats, milkshakes and Oreo-flavoured consumables. You will often find Aimee typing furiously equipped with a Greggs’ sausage roll and a gingerbread man.