Before we even start, let's get one thing clear. Penis fish is a worm, and the penis part, well, these poor creatures simply look like male intimate parts.
A passerby on Drakes Beach was left terrified after seeing hundreds of seagulls feasting on something in the sand. And that something was penis fish.
Pink and roughly six inches long, penis fish occupied the coast of California. Bizarre-looking creatures are actually called fat innkeeper worms, and the reason they ended up on the beach is quite simple.
Though it's typical for storms to bring penis fish and other creatures ocean creatures to the beaches, the sight is not pretty.
San Francisco native David Ford explained that there were others on the beach after the storm.
He says he saw a couple of elephant seals, a sea turtle carcass, which doesn't live there, and the remains of an angel shark.
Yet, penis fish were quite an attraction. He took photos and then started investigating these creatures.
The worm pictures ended up on Instagram, and people were both amazed and scared.
Ford explains to Vice:
"I had no idea what they might be – it went on for two miles. I walked for another half hour and they were scattered everywhere. There were seagulls lined up the beach the whole way having eaten so much they could barely stand."
The science behind penis fish
What makes these worms look so much like male sexual organ?
According to Ivan Parr, a biologist and writer for Bay Nature:
"The worm species gets its unique sausage shape by burrowing in the mud or sand for shelter or food."
He continues, admitting that the way these worm look is kind of gross.
"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. Within a beach or mudflat, it digs a U-shaped burrow extending a few feet in length but no wider than the worm itself."
The scientist further says that these worms live up 25 years, and there is fossil evidence that dates the species back 300 million years to a pre-historic era.
They may look gross, but penis fish have seen things. After all, they were on this planet way before us, humans.
Edible penis fish
The worms are a delicacy in some East Asian countries. Though they are rarely in California, Eastern Asia has plenty of penis fish.
And their meat is surprisingly sweet, so you get it served with a savory sauce.
Everything about Urechis unicinctus sounds interesting, though we still can't get over the fact that they look exactly like a penis. That's why it's not on our menu!