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Friday, April 12, 2013

Penis Fish

 Urechis unicinctus - The Penis Fish 
      The Echiura, or spoon worms, are a small group of marine animals.  Urechis unicinctus is a species of marine spoon worm widely referred to as the "Penis Fish" (very easy to see the Resemblance reference here).  While the Urechis caupo is often called the "Fat Innkeeper" worm (not so easy to figure out the Resemblance reference here).

      Urechis caupo lives in burrows in sand and mud. It gets the name "fat innkeeper worm" because the tunnels it creates often contain other animals.  In fact, at least four other animals are known to live with the Fat Innkeeper Worm in its tunnel home (get the Resemblance to an Inn Keeper?).  Frequent guests of the Worm include a fish called a goby, a small pea crab, a clam and a scale worm. They feed on food that the Innkeeper Worm leaves behind.

      The Fat Innkeeper Worms are common in the sandy mud of the Elkhorn Slough. They live in a U-shaped tunnel or burrow and have a unique method of eating. It secretes a slime net, which serves to trap small food particles. The worm circulates water through the tunnel, trapping food in the slime net. When the mucus net becomes loaded with food, it is loosened from its attachments and the entire net with its burden of food is swallowed by the worm.

      Fat Innkeeper Worms are eaten by bat rays, leopard sharks and otters, who suck or dig them out of their burrows.

     The Penis Fish in the other hand is commonly eaten raw with salt and sesame oil in Korea and in parts of Japan.  In Chinese cuisine the worm is stir-fried with vegetables, or dried and powdered to be used as an umami enhancer. In particular, the worm is considered an important ingredient in Shandong cuisine and is used in numerous recipes.  It is also used for fishing bait.

     The Penis Fish is so popular it even has it's own Facebook Page :

Source :
 Urechis caupo - The Fat Innkeeper 
Penis Fish at market

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