Thousands of 'Penis Fish' Wash Up on CA Beaches

Rebekah Sager
December 13, 2019 - 1:42 pm
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They're fat, pink, throbbing and about 10-inches long, and thousands of them have rolled up onto a beach about 50 miles north of San Francisco. 

According to Bay Nature, the 'penis fish' or 'fat innkeeper worms,' come in on the beach when they're forced out of their underwater burrows. 

They're usually only found in Southern Oregon to Baja, but primarily seen in Bodega Bay and Monterey -- U. caupo (in Latin) are a California thing. 

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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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These toothless creatures date back to 300 million years and live for about 25 years. The threats to them are humans, otters, flounders, sharks, rays, and seagulls.