A Japanese diver has been friends with a fish for 30 years, proving that no sea is too deep to find a companion for life.
After being entrusted to look after an underwater Shinto shrine, Hiroyuki Arakawa, 79, got to know the marine creatures that lived in the area. He started diving when he was 18.
Among the shrine’s residents is a female Asian sheepshead wrasse named Yoriko whom he became friends with about 30 years ago.
Whenever Arakawa dives to visit the shrine, all he needs to do is knock on metal, and Yoriko will be swimming toward him, Atlas Obscura said.
Arakawa greets Yoriko in a kiss, though he’s the only human she would allow to do so. This may support a 2016 study which revealed that fish can actually recognize human faces, even with simple digital alteration.
Arakawa told Great Big Story, “I’d say we understand each other. Not that we can talk to each other but it just happened naturally.”
The Japanese call Asian sheepshead wrasses like Yoriko “kobudai,” due to the bump or kobu they have. Arakawa admits that interacting with them is harder than simply feeding, but he believes it all comes down to trust:
“I’m not sure if it’s the nature of the kobudai or not, but it’s probably because there is a sense of trust between us.”
Arakawa deserved that trust. At one point, when Yoriko was exhausted from struggling to find food, he fed her five crabs every day for 10 days. He also helped her on another occasion when she was badly injured.
For the priceless bond they’ve made, Arakawa couldn’t be more fulfilled.
“I have an amazing sense of accomplishment in my heart,” he said.
Watch their heartwarming friendship below (via Great Big Story):