Of all of Earth's ecosystems, those that lie in the oceans' depths are easily among the most otherworldly, ripe with species that might seem more fit for life on an imagined distant planet than on our own. It's no wonder then that when mysterious underwater 'crop circles' were discovered on the sea floor, their origins turned out not to be extraterrestrial -- but rather something decidedly fishier.
Earlier this year, while diving in the waters of the southern tip of Japan, photographer Yoji Ookata encountered a variety of oddly uniform, artistically circular patterns in the sand deep beneath the waves, some spanning 6-feet in diameter.
Although the intricate creations, like those famed crop circle discoveries found on land, seemed to hint at an alien designer, Ookata suspected otherwise. So he contacted his local news outlet NHK, to help him uncover the truth behind these underwater patterns.
The findings in their filmed report, which was broadcast on Japanese television (and that is apparently unavailable on the internet), was summarized in the blog Spoon & Tamago:
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. The unlikely artist – best known in Japan as a delicacy, albeit a potentially poisonous one – even takes small shells, cracks them, and lines the inner grooves of his sculpture as if decorating his piece. Further observation revealed that this “mysterious circle” was not just there to make the ocean floor look pretty. Attracted by the grooves and ridges, female puffer fish would find their way along the dark seabed to the male puffer fish where they would mate and lay eggs in the center of the circle.