06:57 GMT21 September 2020
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    Recent storms swept away layers of sand revealing thousands of creatures called fat innkeeper worms, also called “penis fish” due to their distinct form and colour.

    Following a series of winter storms in northern California, a swarm of pink, throbbing, phallic creatures wound up pulsating along a beach north of San Francisco, Bay Nature reported. These creatures are marine worms called fat innkeeper worms, and usually, they burrow under the sand, far beneath the feet of beachgoers. The giant waves during the storms stripped the beach naked of the layers of sands, leaving the so-called “penis fish” exposed.

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    The Korean name for this curious creature is gaebul, which translates as “dog dick.” Here in the States, it’s known as the fat innkeeper worm or the penis fish. Its scientific binomial is Urechis caupo, or “viper tail tradesman.” Whatever you call the animal, you can find them in abundance at Bodega Bay, where they build burrows in the tidal mud flats. On Saturday afternoon, our small, but enthusiastic clamming/crabbing crew thrust shovels and shoulder-deep arms into that mud in pursuit of Pacific gaper clams (Tresus nuttallii), but we also pulled up at least twenty of these red rockets. We returned them to their subterranean homes – excepting those that were snatched by eager herring gulls. I learned later that the gulls were the smarter hunters; fat innkeepers are edible, and are even considered a delicacy in Korea. Still, even though we missed out on a prime opportunity to dine on dog dick, we had a successful, fun outing, encountering a number of curious species, some of which now reside my belly. ⊙ What you’re looking at here: • Fat innkeeper worm (Urechis caupo) • A ring of prominent setae on the butt end of the fat innkeeper worm (Urechis caupo) • Bay ghost shrimp (Neotrypaea californiensis) • Lewis’s moon snail (Euspira lewisii) • Bucket filled w/ Pacific gaper clams or “horsenecks” (Tresus nuttallii), white macoma or “sand clams” (Macoma secta), and Lewis’s moon snails • Red rock crabs (Cancer productus) back in the kitchen, icing after boiling ๑ ๑ ๑ ๑ ๑ #BodegaBay #gaebul #FatInnkeeperWorm #UrechisCaupo #BayGhostShrimp #NeotrypaeaCaliforniensis #LewissMoonSnail #EuspiraLewisii #PacificGgaperClam #TresusNuttallii #RedRockCrab #CancerProductus #crabbing #clamming #huntergatherer #SonomaCounty #California #naturalhistory

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    The creatures date back 300 million years. These worms can live for up to 25 years, and feed and swim using their “spatula-shaped proboscis.” It typically eats bacteria, plankton and other small particles which it collects using “sticky mucus nets.” They can also be eaten: in South Korea, a dish made of fat innkeeper worms is called gaebul and in China it can be served to tourists stir-fried as a local delicacy.

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