Deep Sea Mystery Circle

Yoji Ookata is a scuba diver and self-taught underwater photographer. After diving and shooting recreationally for 18 years, Yoji took the ‘plunge’, quit his day job and has been working as a freelance underwater photographer ever since. On a recent dive in the waters of Amami Oshima (Kagoshima Prefecture), Yoji noticed strange circular patterns on the sea floor at a depth of about 25 meters (82 ft).

The patterns were about 2 meters (6.5 ft) in diameter and quite intricate. Ookata decided to enlist the help of his colleagues at NHK to help investigate what he dubbed ‘the deep sea mystery circle’. After sending down a film crew and team of scientists, the NHK aired an episode entitled, “The Discovery of a Century: Deep Sea Mystery Circle”. The findings were astounding.

It turns out the artist is a small male puffer fish who creates the patterns using his tiny fin. He works day and night in the hopes his artwork will attract a female mate (who apparently are attracted to the grooves and ridges). If chosen, the female will lay her eggs in the middle of the circle and the surrounding ridges and grooves even help protect the eggs from currents. How lovely!