'Crop Circles' on the Seabed

Yoji Ookata is a man who has 50 years [edit: thank you Darlene!] experience diving and exploring sea life. While diving in a semi-tropical region near Japan, roughly 80 ft below sea level, Ookata spotted something he had never seen. And as it turned out, no one else had seen it before either.

[photo: Yoji Ookata]
On the seabed a geometric, circular structure measuring roughly 6.5 ft in diameter had been precisely carved from sand. It consisted of multiple ridges, symmetrically jutting out from the center, and appeared to be the work of an underwater artist, carefully working with tools.

[photo: Yoji Ookata]

It turns out the artist was a surprise and a fish we've talked about here before. 

Don't let that face fool you, this is a killing machine wrapped in a murderer tied up with an assasin wearing a cute clown face. Ichthyologically speaking

[photo: Yoji Ookata]

Underwater cameras showed that the artist was a small puffer fish who, using only his flapping fin, tirelessly worked day and night to carve the circular ridges. How does a tiny fish create intricate, huge circles in the sand? How long does it take to create these circles? Do his tiny fins wear out moving sand around?

Why does he do it? To create a nest that attracts females who will mate and lay eggs. Females swimming along the dark bottom find this ridged sculpture easily. The more rideges, hills and valleys, the more females were attracted. The couple meet up, mate and lay their eggs in the centre of the mound.

The pattern wasn't just made to be pretty. Through experiments back at their lab, the scientists working with Yoji Ookata showed that the grooves and ridges of the sculpture helped neutralize currents, protecting the eggs from being tossed around and potentially exposing them to predators.

The pufferfish is more than a a hideous serial killer with a cute, puppy face and a body full of neurotoxin. It's a craftsman and engineer as well. Respect. *fist bumps pufferfish* *pufferfish blows up like a balloon cuz it's a fish and doesn't understand anything* OK...I'm outta here

[photo: Yoji Ookata]



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