The Loh Down On Science

How one little fish makes a big splash

You've heard of crop circles.  Now get ready for ocean circles!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

Solving a marine mystery.

In nineteen ninety-five, divers near Japan noticed something on the ocean floor:  A mysterious intricate circular design in the sand.  It was big—over six feet across—but the artists were absent.  Were they alien pranksters?  Lobsters that like geometry?

No, and NO!

Recently, Japanese biologists fingered the culprit.  They watched a male pufferfish just under five inches long build one of these designs.  With its fins and tail, the fish dug peaks and valleys radiating from the center.  He decorated the peaks with small pebbles and bits of coral from the surrounding seafloor.

But why such trouble?  To mate, of course.  The bling ring attracts females, who decide if the nest is egg-worthy. The researchers say the better the circle, the higher the chances of . . . little pufferfish.

Each circle gets used once—so every season, Mr. Pufferfish gets to work. 

Because, you know, he has to put a ring on it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWnHavtuyDk

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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