The only thing most people know about the Japanese Puffer Fish is that it is called Fugu when they order it at their local sushi restaurant and that it can be poisonous if not prepared correctly. However there is a great deal more to this unassuming little gray fishy. The male of the species creates great works of art in pursuit of the female of the species.
I call it The Courtship of Eddie's Dinner to be funny, but this is serious business for this pear-shaped fish. It seems that every male creature on Earth has to do something to get the female of the species to notice them. For this particular kind of puffer fish (called Takifugu in Japanese) this means creating a spectacular work of art on the ocean floor.
The puffer fish uses just his own fins to plow up the ocean floor repeatedly to create an amazing circular structure. While the pectoral fins are the main (and more spectacular) method of creation, it is interesting to note in the video below that he will also use his pelvic fin very much like a plowshare and drag it through the sand.
It takes about a week of working 24/7 for the fish to complete his task. If he stops the ocean currents will wipe away his masterpiece and he will have to start again. The resulting "crop circle" is more than six feet in diameter with an inner and outer circle. The fish even "decorates" the ridges with bits of shell. All of the ridges radiate from the center of the circle.
Once the structure is complete a female will arrive and mating will occur. Their eggs are laid right in the center of the circle. Scientists believe that the circle and its design protect those eggs from both ocean currents and predators. They even believe that the bits of shell that are placed on the ridges are not just decorative but may provide nutrients for the young.
One thing that researchers also noticed while studying the puffer fish is that the males that created the most elaborate and intricate circles attracted more females to mate with. It may be that this is a sign that these males would help create the strongest and most successful offspring.
I once had a boss who claimed that the difference between humans and animals is culture. When I see works like this from animals I can't help but think that can't be true. All animals have culture, humans are just snobs about it.
So next time you are dining at your favorite sushi joint and order shashimi chiri, remember the true beauty of this little fish. You can also sit and wonder what kind of creature makes actual crop circles. Yikes!
Images via YouTube