At 71 years old, Yoji Ookata thought he had seen it all … underwater. He’d been diving since his 21st birthday. Worked as a professional deep sea photographer since he was 40 and spent the past 31 years beneath the surface of the planet. Immersed in the infinite mysteries of the sea. A world that became as familiar to him as the camera in his hand.
Until one day off Amami Oshima, a semi-tropical island which is part of the Ryukyu Archipelago in Japan. That day Ookata spotted something on the seabed he had never seen before. And, when he returned to the boat, it turned out no-one on the surface had seen before either.
Yoji’s pictures revealed a geometric, circular structure. Laid out, perfectly undisturbed, in the sand. The “mystery circle” was more than six feet in diameter and made up of intricate patterns: ridges and scallops all radiating out from a raised center. It seemed to be an underwater crop circle. An unexplained phenomenon. But was it natural or man made? Or was it something else, entirely?
Ookata’s pictures intigued film makers at Japan’s National TV Station. So they set sail immediately – determined to discover what could have created this perfect architecture: 80-feet below the surface of the ocean.
A small male puffer fish.
They watched amazed as our hero used only his flapping fin to carve the circular ridges. Working day and night to perfect his design. Once he was satisfied – our unlikely artist cracked small sea shells, lining the grooves with the delicate pieces – intricately decorating his masterpiece.
But this fish had no intention of being eaten. He had other things on his mind. He knew female puffers, attracted by the grooves and ridges, would make their sultry way along the dark seabed to his creation. They would mate – and lay their eggs at the centre of the circle.