Thousands of ‘penis fish’ wash onto California beach

WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:

  • Thousands of plump ‘penis-fish’ have washed ashore Drakes Beach, California after a storm, according to a biologist from the Western Section of The Wildlife Society, who discovered them last week.
  • Officially named fat innkeeper worm, the biologist believes a recent storm forced the worms out of their underwater burrows and carried them to the beach.
  • Now that they are exposed, they are in danger from predators that include seals and seagulls.

Thousands of “penis fish” have washed ashore on a California beach last week. Photos shared online are raising eyebrows due to the creature’s phallic shape.

Photo Credit: Kate Montana
Photo Credit: Kate Montana

This marine life is officially called fat innkeeper worms (Urechis caupo), and a biologist who writes for Bay Nature, says that he believes a recent storm in the Drakes Beach area is the reason so many of them mysteriously appeared on the beach.

Ivan Parr discovered the spoonworms on Dec. 6. The biologist from the Western Section of The Wildlife Society explains that the 10-inch fat innkeeper worm typically lives underwater, burrowing in mud or sand, but the storm likely carried them ashore.

“I’ve heard my share of imaginative theories from beachcombers, such as flotsam of a wrecked bratwurst freighter,” Parr writes.

However, the expert explains that a sausage ship accident is not the cause of this scene.

“We’re seeing the risk of building your home out of sand,” he says. “Strong storms — especially during El Niño years — are perfectly capable of laying siege to the intertidal zone, breaking apart the sediments, and leaving their contents stranded on shore.”

 

The spoonworm, which can live for up to 25 years, feeds and swims using its “spatula-shaped proboscis.” Its typical diest is bacteria, plankton and other small particles which it collects using “sticky mucus nets.”

Parr says he’s heard of sightings over the years in California at Pajaro Dunes, Moss Landing, Bodega Bay and Princeton Harbor.

The marine life dates back 300 million years and is also edible. Those who have eaten this worm have said it is chewy, salty and surprisingly sweet.

It’s often served with a savory sauce made from sesame oil and salt or a spicier dip consisting of vinegar and gochujang — a Korean chili sauce.

Some prefer their penis fish grilled it on a skewer with salt, pepper, and sesame oil.

 

Source: New York Post

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