People of Drakes Beach, California woke up to something they have never seen before after thousand of “Penis-Fish” were found on their shore.
The sea of these ‘penis-fish’ was first spotted by biologists Ivan Parr on December 6 after a storm hit the area. As the fish seem odd, many questions as to what they are called and what happened to them?
It turns out that these “Penis Fish” is formally known as fat innkeeper worm, an expert believes a recent storm forced the worms out of their underwater homes and carried them to the beach -leaving them exposed to predators.
This 10-inch marine creature looks like a ‘pink sausage’ and creates U-shaped burrows in mud or sand that it leaves behind for other creatures to move in – hence its name ‘innkeeper’.
The fat innkeeper worm is a type of spoon worm with a spatula-shape limb, which it uses to both feed and swim. It spends most of its existence underground in muddy and sandy parts of the seafloor – and it lives for up to 25 years. They dine on bacteria, plankton and other smalls particles, which it captures using ‘slime nets’ that are consumed once they have caught enough food with it.
According to Daily Mail, they may be a rare sitting in the US, but not in South Korea, Japan, and China. Those who have dined on 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. Those who prefer their penis fish cooked might grill it on a skewer with salt, pepper, and sesame oil.
However, because of their size and soft bodies, they have many threats including otters, sharks seagulls, and humans – but experts say they are harmless and passive creatures.
WHAT ARE ‘FAT INNKEEPER WORMS’?
Known as the ‘fat innkeeper worm’, the echiura worm is a little roundworm that lives at the bottom of the sea.
These unusual and pudgy worms, Urechis unicinctus, look as gentle as they are – they’re quite slow and are harmless to humans as they have no teeth.
In Asian countries such as South Korea or China, they are used as a food that can be consumed raw or cooked in different styles.
The worms typically live in burrows in muddy and sandy parts of the seafloor.
Their U-shaped burrows are also used by many other creatures as their temporary or permanent homes.
For this reason, Urechises are often called ‘fat innkeeper worms’. They are also called ‘penis fish’ for quite obvious reasons.
Currently, researchers do not believe their cohabitants do any good for them. The worm itself reaches around 20cm (eight inches) long but their burrows can be several feet deep.
It pumps water into its burrow by waves of muscle contractions running down its body.
Innkeeper worms eat by creating ‘slime nets’ that trap plankton drifting in the water. When they have caught enough in their net they swallow it.