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Scuba Diver’s Remarkable 25-Year-Old Friendship With a Fish

Hiroyuki Arakawa and Yoriko, the Asian sheepshead wrasse, share an exceptional story of human friendship with a fish.
Hiroyuki Arakawa and Yoriko, the Asian sheepshead wrasse, share an exceptional story of human friendship with a fish. Credit: Nemo’s great uncle / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In the picturesque waters of Japan’s Tateyama Bay, an extraordinary tale of friendship with a fish has unfolded over the span of almost three decades. Local diver Hiroyuki Arakawa shares an incredible bond with a fish named Yoriko, an Asian sheepshead wrasse.

The unique connection began when Arakawa was overseeing the construction of an underwater Shinto temple gate, positioned a significant 56 feet below the bay’s surface. This heartwarming story is a testament to the enduring friendship between a diver and a remarkable aquatic companion.

Arakawa’s love for deep-sea diving

At the age of 18, Hiroyuki Arakawa embarked on his diving journey. Reflecting on his passion for the ocean, he said, “Being in the water, you can be so isolated. It’s your own world. I like being in the deep waters.”

Remarkably, even as he turns 81, Arakawa’s enthusiasm for deep-sea diving remained undiminished. Amidst his aquatic adventures, the enduring friendship he forged with Yoriko, the Asian sheepshead wrasse, shone as one of the greatest highlights of his underwater explorations.

In a recent interview, Arakawa shared, “I’d say we understand each other. Not that we talk to each other. I kissed her once. I’m the only person she’ll let do it. If you look closely, from the front, they look like they have a human face. When you look really close, you’ll think it looks like someone you know.”

Yoriko came to meet him despite her injury

During one of his dives, Arakawa discovered that Yoriko had suffered a significant injury to her mouth. Remarkably, despite her injury, she made a determined effort to greet him, showcasing the depth of their unique connection.

Realizing that Yoriko might struggle to catch her own food due to her mouth injury, Arakawa dedicated the following ten days to providing her with nourishment.

He carefully hand-fed her with crab meat, which he skillfully cracked open near the temple gate. Reflecting on this gesture, he remarked, “I think anyone can get an animal’s attention by feeding them. But to touch or interact with them is harder to accomplish.”

Yoriko’s recovery from her injuries was swift, deepening their bond. Arakawa mused, “I’m not sure if it’s the nature of the kobudai or not. It’s probably because there is a sense of trust between us. I guess she knows that I saved her that I helped when she was badly injured. So for me to be able to do that, I am proud.”

He added, “I have an amazing sense of accomplishment in my heart.”

Animals’ capacity to build strong bonds with humans

Animals have a remarkable capacity to form strong bonds with humans. In another touching tale, amidst the pandemic, a pod of dolphins in Queensland, Australia, demonstrated their longing for human companionship.

These dolphins started visiting a local café bearing gifts in their mouths. These gifts ranged from seashells, coral, and pieces of wood to even a starfish. The team at Barnacles Cafe and Dolphin Feeding promptly recognized this heartwarming display of affection from the dolphins.

The team at Barnacles Cafe expressed their observations on Facebook, stating, “The pod has been bringing us regular gifts, showing us how much they’re missing the public interaction and attention.” Team members also shared the gifts they had received from these sea creatures, with a focus on the contributions of Mystique, a 29-year-old alpha male dolphin.

According to Australia news reports, Mystique had previously demonstrated his appreciation by bringing gifts to both the feeders and visitors, but this heartwarming behavior became even more pronounced during the pandemic.

The volunteers who collaborated with the dolphins found themselves taken aback by the dolphins’ conduct. Lyn McPherson, one of the volunteers, shared in an interview, “One male dolphin brings in objects on his rostrum or beak, and then he carefully presents them to us. What we have to do is give him a fish in return. We haven’t trained him, but he has trained us to do this.”

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