The ocean can be a strange place, and not just in the dark, remote depths. Lots of unusual animals also live near shore, including the oddity in the video above.
What looks like a runaway pastry of some kind — maybe a "possessed pancake," as Earth Touch puts it — has already drawn more than 5 million views since the video was uploaded to Facebook a few days ago. And it's not hard to see why: The creature looks alien to begin with as it burrows into the wet sand, but then it turns the weirdness up to 11 by spewing grayish goo into the air.
This is no alien, though. It's a Pacific razor clam, behaving normally in its native habitat. These bivalve mollusks inhabit a swath of North America's Pacific coast, from the Aleutian Islands as far south as California's Pismo Beach. They live in sub-tidal and inter-tidal areas of stable, sandy beaches, both on the open coast and in some bays. This one was caught on video by Kate Taylor, a fly-fishing guide in Oregon.
Despite their abundance, Pacific razor clams tend to keep a low profile among human beach-goers. That's largely because of their wet-sand digging skills: They can dig a foot deep in a minute, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), and have been recorded at depths of more than 4 feet.
Digging into wet sand helps protect the clams from predators — including birds, crabs, fish and humans — and from drying out, since their shells can't close tightly. They use a muscular foot to dig into the sand (as seen on the clam's right side in the video above), and then to anchor themselves below the surface. On this clam's left side, you can see one of its siphons, which comes into play near the end of the clip.
While that squirt of gray goo looks unnerving, it's not as gross as you might assume. It's just a slurry of water and sand that helps the clam quickly slide into the beach — and away from those weird-looking land mammals gawking at it.