Blog: Penis Fish Invade California

Burt Ross

Okay, let’s get something straight right now. I am not making this stuff up in order to sell copies of this esteemed newspaper, although I am certainly not above appealing to your prurient interests to increase my readership.

I was online looking for breaking news when I saw the following headline on CNN, “Thousands of ‘penis fish’ washed up on a California beach.” Naturally I was aroused-my curiosity that is.

If I understand the article correctly, a horde of fat innkeeper worms recently descended upon a beach in Bodega Bay, California. These bulbous worms normally live their entire lives underground, holed up in u-shaped burrows beneath the wet sand along the California coast.

A storm in Northern California brought strong waves that washed away several feet of sand from the intertidal zone leaving all these fat innkeeper worms on the surface—you might say they exposed themselves.

Colloquially known as “penis fish” among biologists and dilettantes for its phallic shape, the innkeeper worm has been around forever and a day, but since they burrow beneath the sand, we are not aware of their presence unless there is a powerful storm.  And thank God for that. Ever since the movie “Jaws” I have not gone into the ocean, and after reading the CNN article, I will no longer walk along the sand.

I have now seen several photos of this creature, and I can assure you that only on good taste prevents me from sharing them with you. You can, of course, do your own search, but I warn you that once see you these photos, you may never be able to sleep well again.

I believe that to name these worms after the male appendage is an egregious insult to my gender, but that is a matter of opinion.

A dear friend of mine who shall go for purposes of this article by her initials PMS (she was not named after a medical condition) asked me if I knew how to detect the gender of the penis fish. I assured her that not only do I not know the answer to her question, but I have absolutely no intention of finding out.

Have a healthy and happy 2020!