Thursday Salute to Originals: Aquatic Artist

Take a good look at the image below…

Puffer Fish Sand Circle Design

Intriguing, right? Fascinating movement with geometric motifs and radial patterns bursting from the center. Captivating play of shadow and light on the undulating peaks and valleys. Nice balance and symmetry. Someone must have spent significant time developing this concept, and then meticulously executing the design. So who’s behind this artful masterpiece? We’re betting you won’t believe who – or what – the artist is…

Puffer Fish

Yep, that’s right. A fish. This little guy, a 5 inch male puffer fish, is the artist of this amazing underwater sand installation.

Using his pectoral fins, the male puffer fish spends 7 to 9 days laboriously constructing what have been dubbed “underwater crop circles.” Carving radial grooves into the sand, these mounds form elaborate spirographs reaching about 7 feet in diameter. Always an eye for detail, the puffer fish will embellish the edges of his masterpiece with crushed shells and use varieties of sediment to add color to the design. (And we thought designers were particular!)

But what is motivating this little guy to express himself in such an artful manner? Does he just have an urgent need to decorate the ocean floor? Well, not quite. Turns out, this elaborate design is all to attract a female! Female puffer fish are drawn to the circles, where they inspect the design prior to mating. If the female puffer fish deems the circle suitable to her liking, she will lay her eggs on the fine sediment in the center.

But there’s more to these seafloor circles than just looks; there is actual function and specific engineering at the heart of these remarkable designs. The peaks and valleys, while beautiful, are actually a unique funneling system. They channel the fine, female-puffer-fish-approved sediments toward the center of the circle. And at the same time, they reduce speed of flowing water in the center by almost 25%, protecting the vulnerable eggs from washing way in harsh currents. So this awesome aquatic design isn’t just aesthetical, it’s functional. And by a FISH, no less! Mind. Blown.

We salute you little male puffer fish for your determination and artistic prose, and for proving that design is certainly not just for the human species!

Image credits: Blogfish, Treehugger, Conscious Life News, Reefbuilders, Decoded Science