Beachgoers in Río Grande, southern Argentina, were in for an unusual sight after a heavy storm when thousands of peculiar marine creatures known as ‘Penis Fish’ washed up on the shore. The pink wriggling creatures, measuring about 10 inches in length, left locals feeling a bit uneasy due to their rather suggestive appearance.
These marine animals are formally called Urechis Unicinctus but have gained their comical nickname due to their phallic shape. Despite their amusing moniker, these creatures are actually a type of spoonworm. Another name they go by is ‘The Fat Innkeeper Worm,’ derived from their peculiar behavior of creating U-shaped burrows in sand or mud, which are then used by other animals as shelter, hence the term ‘innkeeper’ in their name.
While residing mostly underground, strong storms often bring them to the surface, making them vulnerable to predators like sharks and seagulls. Remarkably, evidence of their unique burrowing behavior dates back over an astonishing 300 million years.
These intriguing worms have a lifespan of up to 25 years and are considered a delicacy in various countries, including South Korea, Japan, and China. In these regions, people enjoy consuming them either raw or cooked in different styles. Known for their chewy texture and surprisingly sweet taste, they are often served with savoury sauces made from sesame oil or vinegar with gochujang.
So, while the ‘Penis Fish’ may cause a few raised eyebrows and amused reactions on the beach, they play a crucial role in their ecosystem and are valued as a culinary delight in certain parts of the world.