Urechis caupo , better known by its more phallic name for fairly obvious reasons, is a species of marine spoonworm that spends most of its life burrowed in the soft sediment of the sea bed. However, these inchers they can even grow to around 30 centimeters in length appear to have been disturbed, picked up from their quiet life, and strewn across a beach for as far as the eye can see and never unsee, thanks to this horrendous photograph snapped by local resident David Ford. And just to make you feel a little more sick: "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. Ford reached out to Bay Nature, which runs a " Ask the Naturalist " column, and biologist Ivan Parr gave up the goods. Urechis has four species of penis fish. The worms create u-shaped burrows in sand or mud, then secrete a slimy mucusy net that stretches from the entrance to its mouth to suck up food. They get the name "penis fish" because they really, really look like a donger. People, as you'd expect, are big fans of the penis fish now that the penis fish beach party has made them aware of the creatures.
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A phallic-looking phenomenon took over a Northern California beach last week after a strong storm uncovered thousands of fat innkeeper worms — colloquially known as penis fish — leaving them stranded on the sand. The appearance of what the birds were eating might be enough to get a chuckle out of even the most mature beachgoer. This may just be the weirdest thing you've seen today! Thousands of these marine worms, called fat innkeeper worms—or "penis fish"—washed up on Drake's Beach after a recent storm. The seagulls were feasting on fat inch-long innkeeper worms that were spread across the beach for miles. Some were clearly dead, but a few were bright red — a sign they were still alive. In response, biologist Ivan Parr explained that the worms, formally called Urechis caupo , are a species of marine spoonworm that live between southern Oregon and Baja California. The worms, which are not often seen because they live burrowed in the sand, have been spotted between Bodega Bay and Monterey. The invertebrates eat by creating a slime net that traps tiny bits of food drifting in the water, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. However, strong storms and heavy surf can dislodge the creatures from their burrows, leaving them visible to people on the shore.
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Each one is a inch tube of pink flesh with a bulge and a narrow opening at one end. A fierce storm and heavy waves likely washed away several feet of sand to expose the worms, biologist Ivan Parr wrote in a blog post for the magazine. 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. Hundreds of seagulls descended on the beach for an all-you-can-eat water-wiener buffet, the photos show. Urechis caupo is only native to North America, but three other species of penis fish are known to live under the sandy beaches of several Asian countries on the Pacific Ocean.
A spectacular presentation of marine life on a Marin County beach stunned even the experienced nature photographer who documented it. Miles of Drakes Beach at Point Reyes were covered last Friday by Urechis caupo , commonly called fat innkeeper worms — or penis fish. The bewildering sight was captured by photographer David Ford of Lagunitas.