December brings a lot of things. Cozy weather, Christmas, penis fish.
We’re not actually talking about the “cute” nickname your Tinder match calls his…. er, eggplant emoji. We’re referring to the thousands of Fat Innkeeper Worms (urechis caupo) that, after a strong storm, washed up onto the sand of Drakes Beach in Northern California.
As Biologist Ivan Parr reported, this wasn’t the first time these creatures have made their way onto land. The penis fish had previously made been beached at Moss Landing, Bodega Bay, Princeton Harbor, and the Pajaro Dunes until the tide brought them back to sea or they were gobbled up by seagulls. Way to be a dick, nature.
These marine spoon worms (Echiuroidea) are part of the Echiura family along with earthworms, except these are distinctly shaped like sausages. Specifically, like 8 to 10-inch pink sausages that wriggle and pulsate and who really like Twitter.
This marine animal is causing quite a stir, so we sat down with him to sort things out.
Q&A with the Penis Fish
Excuse me, sir. We have some questions.
Yeah, apparently a lot of people have questions.
What brings you to Drakes Beach?
I got lost.
Like, in an existential way?
No. A crab gave me the wrong directions. I’m a detritivore, so I usually live in shallow water, eating decomposing plant and animal matter. But then an intense storm washed away several feet of sand and left me and my friends exposed. Speaking of which, do you have a few thousand towels I could borrow?
Sorry, no. Are penis fish edible?
Oh heyyyyy, that escalated quickly. Well, in South Korea I’m known as urechis unicinctus or gaebul. I can be seasoned with sesame oil, salt, and pepper, or dipped in a chogochujang (vinegared gochujang) sauce. I’m chewy, salty, and sweet, and usually still wriggling when served. Bet you wouldn’t have expected that.
Actually, we would have expected nothing less. So why do you look like this?
You mean like this?
Stop. We just ate.
Fine. Did you know sea otters also love me? I make up 10% of the sea otter diet. I also have this pleasing shape because I create a slimy u-shaped burrow for other sea creatures — like clams, shrimp, and fish — filled with delicious plankton. That’s why I’m known as the Fat Innkeeper Worm.
Well that’s not very nice.
No. Such is life.
Thanks for your time, Penis Fish — you protect yourself out there. In other news, we’re never going to the beach again.
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