Thousands Of ‘Penis-Fish’ Washed Ashore On A California Beach

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 12 Dec 2019 18:32
Thousands Of 'Penis-Fish' Washed Ashore On A California BeachDavid Ford/Kate Montana/iNaturalist Creative Commons

Thanks to David Attenborough’s Blue Plant series, everyone knows how weird the fish can look – everyone remembers that strange fish with the balloon head, right? Well, this ‘fish’ discovered on a beach in California takes weird to new levels. 

Dubbed the ‘penis fish’, thousands of them have washed up on Drakes Beach, California, leaving local residents completely stunned of the likeliness the fish holds to a certain part of the male body.


The official name for the interesting creature is a fat innkeepers worm, a name which they get because they live and burrow in sand and mud that often contain other animals. Interesting – a property developing fish.

The sea of these ‘penis-fish’ was spotted by biologists Ivan Parr on December 6 after a storm hit the area.

The phallic looking fish is actually a food delicacy in Korea and Japan and, to make the idea of eating one even worse, they’re often eaten raw with just salt and sesame oil or with a red chilli paste known as gochujang. The icing on the cake is that the delicacy is known as ‘hoe’, *tries not to laugh*.


The Koreans and Japanese aren’t their only predator though, apparently otters, flounders, sharks, rays and gulls are known to eat them too, Bay Nature reports.

One California local on Facebook said: 

Oh no, the weenie worms are getting stranded again! We don’t call them ‘weenie’ worms anymore, though. The animal scientifically known as Urechis caupo now has the more dignified common name of Fat Innkeeper Worm. Which doesn’t change what it closely resembles, alas.

So, whilst the rest of the world will be doing a double take at the pictures, it appears the ‘weenie worms’ are frequent visitors at that beach in particular.

Thousands Of 'Penis-Fish' Washed Ashore On A California BeachYouTube/Kim Powell

Another social media user said: 

Naturally, 2019 Closes With Thousands Of 10-Inch Pulsing ‘Penis Fish’ Stranded On A California Beach.

To make matters even worse, and to further aid its name of a ‘penis fish’, when the tide is in, the worm slides up to the chimney of its burrow and exudes a sticky mucous net from a ring of glands. Sometimes you can see these mucous nets, looking like decaying jellyfish, draped around the burrow entrance. The worm continues to secrete as it slips lower into the burrow, generating a slime-net that stretches from the chimney to the worm’s mouth.



Thousands Of 'Penis-Fish' Washed Ashore On A California BeachNBC

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Animals, beach, California, fish, Sealife


Bay Nature
  1. Bay Nature

    Naturally, 2019 Closes with Thousands of 10-Inch Pulsing “Penis Fish” Stranded on a California Beach