Credit: Yoji Ookata

If there were ever a time to use the phrase, "I'm not saying it was aliens, but...it was aliens," it would be in response to this (and believe me, I loathe the phrase) -- the mysterious underwater crop circles discovered by accomplished photographer Yoji Ookata. Over the course of his 50 year career of discovering and documenting the diverse life found in Earth's oceans, nothing quite like this structure had ever been found. And not just by Oshima, but by anyone in recorded history.

The structure was found some 80 feet below sea level, located just off from the Japanese island of Anami Oshima. Not only were they nearly perfectly circular geometrically (coming in with dimensions of about six and a half feet wide), they were also quite detailed, with many ridges, grooves, and repeating patterns. The question that immediately comes to mind is a good one...what in the world could create something like this? Surely a human, not another species, right? I mean, my dogs are lucky to hit the corner of the pee pad (not that they are particularly intelligent though.).

 MEET THE PUFFERFISH: 

As it turns out, the structures in question were not created by humans OR alien beings, but can be attributed to one, single male pufferfish. Proving that fish have more in common with humanity than most of us realize. The elaborate structures are most likely created for one reason (and one reason only): to find a mate.

Credit: Yoji Ookata

The pufferfish that create these amazing structures do so using nothing but a single flapping fin, which they use to move the sand on the ocean floor around to create the patterns seen here. After they are finished, they actually decorate their work of art (using portions of broken seashells, which they place along the inner most ridges of the structure). This is thought to make the female pufferfish swoon, enticing them to mate with the male and lay eggs in the center of the circle. It could be that the ridges are actually created to protect the eggs from getting caught up in an underwater current that could carry them off, putting them directly in the path of predators.

Lastly, studies have indicated that the more elaborate the structure, the more likely it is to attract not one, but several females.

via wikipediacommons

As a side note, these fish are considered a delicacy in Japan, despite the high concentration of a powerful neutrotoxin found in their skin, gonads, ovaries, and liver (called tetrodotoxin) which is actually about 1,200 more deadly than cyanide. One single fish contains enough of this poison to kill 30 people. Yet...many people pay good money for the privilege of being poisoned (and dying a slow, painful death).


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