This Japanese diver has been friends with the same fish for nearly 30 years

This unlikely friendship exists in the most unlikely of places: the deep sea.

Divers dive for different reasons – recreation, photography, exploration. But when Hiroyuki Arakawa pays a visit to the underwater shrine he maintains in Tateyama, Japan, one of his reasons is to say hello to an old friend, an Asian sheepshead wrasse named Yuriko.

What the? Okay, okay, that ringing a bell part sort of explains why Yuriko comes over. But how is he that tame?

Arakawa explains:

“I think it was around 30 years ago that I first met Yoriko. […] One day, she was by the shrine’s gate, exhausted. She couldn’t catch her own food. I fed her about five [crabs] every day for about ten days. She’s a lot better now.

I think anyone can get an animal’s attention by feeding them. But to touch or interact with them is harder to accomplish. I’m not sure if it’s the nature of the kobudai [wrasse] or not, but it’s probably because there is a sense of trust between us. I guess she knows that I saved her, that I helped her when she was badly injured. So for me to be able to do that, I have an amazing sense of accomplishment in my heart.”

Something’s fishy here (sorry, couldn’t help it). It makes us think of that scene in Waterworld when they found out Kevin Costner had gills.


On a serious note, in a world filled with bad news, it’s refreshing to see such a unique connection between any two creatures – man or fish. Hiroyuki and Yuriko are lucky to have each other. Maybe we’ll see them immortalised in a Pixar film someday.