A Very Talented Marine Artist!


Knowing that I am passionate about anything having to do with the ocean, a friend of mine sent me the other day a short film that got me inspired. To be honest, I didn’t know anything about the oddity that I am about to show you, but after looking for more details, I was really impressed by what I found.

As early as 1995, several divers found some intriguing geometric patterns at the bottom of the Sea of Japan, drawn into the sand by a mysterious artist. For over a decade, the origin of these beautiful shapes that kept appearing ad then disappearing eluded scientists that tried to understand it.


Shapes ‘drawn’ by the puffer fish. Picture source: thisiscolossal.com


Shapes ‘drawn’ by the puffer fish. Picture source: thisiscolossal.com

Ultimately, the author of these diminutive but exquisite works of art was discovered in 2011. It was none other than the Puffer fish (Tetraodontidae sp.- according to its scientific name).

Studies have shown that the fish draws these unusual shapes in the sand in order to attract a mate. By using its fins, males leave grooves in the sand as they float above it, giving birth to these amazing circular shapes. Even more impressive is the fact that they sometimes carry small rocks or seashells to further embellish their masterpieces. Although puffer fish measure only 12 centimetres in length, their works often reach a diameter of 2 metres. The whole artistic process takes between 7 and 9 days.


Shapes ‘drawn’ by the puffer fish. Picture source: thisiscolossal.com

According to Hiroshi Kawase (a researcher at the National Institute and Museum of Natural History – from Chiba, Japan), when the artwork is complete, females start coming to inspect it. If the result satisfies their taste, they accept to mate with the artist. Then, the female lays her eggs at the centre of the pattern, and the male fertilizes them. Afterwards, the female leaves the male to guard the eggs for up to 6 days, probably util the embryos hatch.

No one knows for sure what criteria female puffer fish use in order to decide if a pattern is acceptable or not. One theory states that this drawing technique serves to channel fine sand particles towards the centre, creating a nest for the eggs.  A finer sand nest in the centre increases the chances that a female will choose the pattern.

Even though the puffer fish is one of the most poisonous marine creatures, it can also be one of the Ocean’s more creative denizens, which is something to be admired.


Puffer fish in action.

Picture source: thisiscolossal.com








Article written by Ioana Stoicescu and translated by Mihail Mitoșeriu.

Despre autor
Acest user este dedicat tuturor colaboratorilor Greenly! Studenti, masteranzi, doctoranzi sau pur si simplu oameni din intreaga tara, din intreaga lume care impart aceeasi pasiune, ecologia. Si isi doresc sa-si imparteasca ideile prin intermediul revistei Greenly. Le multumim din toata inima!
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