Drakes Beach in northern California was covered in ‘penis fish’, or fat innkeeper worms, which can grow up to a foot long and use ‘slime nets’ to catch plankton and bacteria to eat.
Experts believe the phallic creatures, known as fat innkeeper worms, were forced out of their underwater burrows and dumped on Drakes Beach by recent storms.
The beach was covered with the pink worms – which can grow to almost a foot long – as seagulls scooped them up from the sands north of San Francisco.
‘Penis fish’ are a delicacy in East Asia, where they are eaten raw with salt and sesame oil, grilled or stir-fried with vegetables, and they are also used as fishing bait.
Biologist Ivan Parr came across the strange scene at Drakes Beach on December 6 after a storm hit the region,”The same phenomenon has been reported over the years at Pajaro Dunes, Moss Landing, Bodega Bay, and Princeton Harbor.
The worms use their bodies to pump water through the burrow, sucking in plankton, bacteria and other small particles to eat.
The bizarre but harmless creatures can live for up to 25 years and spend most of their lives on the sea floor.
Researchers have found U-shaped burrows dating back 300 million years.