“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.”
Whether it’s mystifying sea creatures or disturbing amounts of pollutants, astounding objects wash up on beaches around the world time and time again. In the case of California’s Drakes Beach, the latest surprise was thousands upon thousands of what have been described as “pulsing penis fish” — and they indeed look as advertised.
According to Newsweek, the animals in question are officially called fat innkeeper worms (Urechis caupo), an ocean-dwelling spoon worm measuring about one foot long that’s commonly found in the shallow waters along the western coast of North America.
As for why this enormous batch of phallic critters landed on California shores this particular week, one expert believes the recent storm in the region was to blame. Ivan Parr, a biologist at the Western Section of the Wildlife Society, explained that these creatures typically dwell underwater and burrow into the sand — until aggressive weather takes them to shore.
“We’re seeing the risk of building your home out of sand,” Parr told the New York Post. “Strong storms — especially during El Niño years — are perfectly capable of laying siege to the intertidal zone, breaking apart the sediments, and leaving their contents stranded on shore.”
But despite such a logical explanation, locals not familiar with the worm have come up with some understandably outrageous theories.