Beach-goers were left gobsmacked after discovering thousands of marine worms called fat innkeeper worms – or “penis fish” – on a US beach.
Winter storms in northern California have caused a stranding of thousands of pink, throbbing penis-like creatures, reports The Guardian.
The 25cm phallic creatures live under the sand in U-shaped burrows in shallow water along the shore, but recent storms have resulted in massive waves that have swept away the layers of sand along the shoreline, exposing the critters.
In an Instagram post by Bay Nature, seagulls are shown gobbling up the fat, wiggly sea creatures.
“Next time you go to the beach, just think about the hundreds of 10-inch [25cm] pink sausages wiggling around just a few feet [centimetres] under the sand,” the caption read.
The sea of “penis fish” was spotted by biologist Ivan Parr earlier this week.
Parr says the same phenomenon has been reported over the years at several other Californian beaches
According to the Daily Mail, the worms dine on bacteria, plankton and other small particles which they capture using “slime nets” that are eaten once they’ve caught enough food with them.
Researchers have found evidence of their existence dating back 300 million years.
The creatures are considered a delicacy in South Korea, Japan and China, and are often served with a savoury sauce made from sesame oil and salt. For those who prefer them cooked they can be grilled on a skewer with salt, pepper and sesame oil.