Need More Penis Fish In Your Life? A California Aquarium Has a Livestream

jkirkhart35, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
jkirkhart35, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0 / jkirkhart35, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Last week, the internet was flooded with seemingly not-safe-for-work images of Urechis caupo, a.k.a. the penis fish. Known as the fat innkeeper worm by marine biologists, thousands of penis fish were found littering shores in Northern California in early December. A storm likely unearthed the marine worms from their burrows in the sand and dumped them onto Drakes Beach near San Francisco, where they scandalized visitors. Now that the existence of the phallic annelids has been brought to the public's attention, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is capitalizing on their viral fame by livestreaming one.

The video below, which was streamed live by California's Monterey Bay Aquarium on December 16, shows the penis fish up close. Despite the provocative, and fitting, nickname, the penis fish is neither a penis nor a fish. It's a spoon worm that releases mucus from its top end to capture organisms like plankton and pumps water to suck prey into its burrow. They grow to be about 10 inches long and live along the Pacific coast.

Fat innkeeper worms spend most of their time buried in the sand, which is why the sight of them covering Drakes Beach this month was so rare. If you weren't able to see them in person, you can get a good look at the elusive critter in the video above. It shows a penis fish squirming through the tunnels of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's exhibit hall while aquarium staff members provide commentary.

Amazingly, Urechis caupo isn't the only marine animal resembling an adult novelty gift found on the West Coast. The geoduck—a huge mollusk native to the Pacific Northwest—is also famous for its risqué appearance.