Thousands of strange “pulsing penis fish” have washed up on a beach in California.
Although the creatures are a type of worm, they are widely referred to as the “penis fish” and they are known to bury themselves deep beneath the sand, but recent storms have uprooted them and Drakes Beach, about 50 miles north of San Francisco, has been covered in the creatures.
Ivan Parr, a biologist from the Western Section of the Wildlife Society, spotted them Dec. 6 and 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,” he writes.
However, Parr explains that a sausage ship accident is not the cause of this scene.
“We’re seeing the risk of building your home out of the 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 onshore.”
There is fossil evidence of the creatures dating back 300 million years and some live for up to 25 years, Parr added.
Several other species, including fish, sharks, and otters feast on the penis fish.
And it’s considered food for humans as well. Urechis unicinctus, the species found in East Asia, is a delicacy in countries including South Korea.