The Puffer Fish Packs a Strong Love Punch

images courtesy Yoji Ookata and NHK

I’m often distressed by the way in which Western civilization estranges itself from the nonhuman world. We view nature as something to conquer or to tame, rather than something that is an intrinsic part of ourselves.

I am relieved, and awe-struck, when I read stories and see images like the following: Yoji Ookata, an underwater photographer, was scuba diving off islands in semi-tropical Japan, when he saw an underwater scene so beautiful, so unexpected, that he had to work with a crew to investigate. By setting up an underwater camera, the team discovered that the male puffer fish performs a beautiful, and elaborate, ritual when it comes to finding its perfect mate.

The story of the discovery aired on Japan’s NHK last week, and more about the ritual can be read here.

The images, and the way in which the fish communicate to one another through this symmetrical sand sculpture, reminded me of a quote I recently read in David Abram’s The Spell of the Sensuous (a book I will soon review more thoroughly):

Tired of all who come with words, words but no language
I went to the snow-covered island.
The wild does not have words.
The unwritten pages spread themselves in all directions!
I come across the marks of roe-deer’s hooves in the snow.
Language, but no words.
—Tomas Transtromer


About Kaitlin Solimine

Kaitlin Solimine was raised in New Hampshire but has considered China a second home for the past two decades. She is the author of the award-winning forthcoming novel Empire of Glass and co-founder of Hippo Reads, a media start-up connecting academic insights with real world issues. She lives in Singapore.
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