After heightened winter storms lashed a beach in California, US, thousands of phallic-shaped fishes washed up on the same. And surely, they got heads turning and people murmuring for their shape.
First spotted by biologist Ivan Parr, he explained that the fish is an underwater worm or marine worms and typically rests in the depths of the oceans.
“Yes, the physical design of the fat innkeeper worm has some explaining to do. But the fat innkeeper is perfectly shaped for a life spent underground,” wrote biologist Ivan Parr.
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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)
As per a post shared Bay Nature Magazine, these creatures are called “fat innkeeper worms”. However, colloquially, they are called exactly what they look like – penis fish.
These creatures mostly survive underwater by feasting on bacteria, plankton and other small particles by sticking them to the ‘mucus net’ on their body.
The creature date backs 300 million years and can also be eaten.