These intricate patterns are not only stunningly beautiful, they also serve a well defined purpose.

The ‘mystery circle’

 

Yoji Ookata is an underwater photographer who has spent over 50 years exploring oceanic depths and as you can guess, he’s seen quite a lot in his life. But even so, the intricate patterns which resemble the notorious ‘UFO crop circles’ above baffled him.

 

The ‘mystery circle’, as Ookata named it measured over two meters in diameter and had complicated models radiating from the center – but what could have created it, 25 meters below the surface? The underwater photographer returned with a TV crew to find the answer; and an answer he found.

The circle was actually created by a small puffer fish, as part of a mating ritual. Although the species is well documented and researchers believed they knew all that’s interesting about it, the tiny puffer held quite the surprise. As it turns out, males spend days and days creating these patterns, and for a good purpose: the mated females will lay eggs in the center. It is believed that the more complicated and grand the pattern is, the less interest it can present to predators.

The results were even more interesting: it turns out more intricate patterns attract more females. So basically, in the puffer fish world, if you want to make it big, you have to … make it big – and intricate.

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