One Weird Thing: Thousands of “Penis Fish” Stranded on CA Beach

 

Inkeeper Worms on CA beach        Photo: David Ford, Bay Nature Magazine Instagram

They are actually called Innkeeper Worms and live several layers down in “U-shaped” burrows under the sand in the inter-tidal area of the coast.  A strong “bombogenesis” storm brought strong winds and heavy surf the weekend after Thanksgiving which washed out several feet of sand along the coast, exposing them, so to speak.  There have been two other mass stranding events in 2010 and 2016 which took place after similar storms that were characterized by El Niño effect warmer-than-average waters that routinely bring with them more rain to California.  The worms are quite resilient — they are believed to have been around for 300 million years, and each one can live to be up to 25 years old.

Photo: Kate Montana, iNaturalist

 

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