Pufferfish Have Some Very Intricate Sex Rituals

Image: PBS. Gif via Gizmodo

Many animals’ mating rituals can be pretty elaborate, and some are borderline disturbing. For pufferfish, the lead up is so stupidly intricate that it’s exhausting and just kind of sad. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be appreciated, so today, in honor of World Oceans Day, we’re celebrating the indefatigable pufferfish and its bizarre sexual habits.

Our source is a new clip from PBS’ upcoming nature documentary series, Big Pacific. As the show’s title suggests, our world’s largest ocean is brimming with miraculous creatures, and the white-spotted puffer (Arothron hispidus) is no exception. In the footage, a male pufferfish spends nearly a week preparing a sand art love nest for his mate. It’s kind of like a crop circle, but for boning.

“In an engineering triumph, these sand circles reduce the apparent current by almost 25 percent,” the show’s narrator explains.

Image: PBS. Gif via Gizmodo

After days of tirelessly preparing the bang pad, the puffer’s mate will enter the middle of the circle, signaling her approval. That’s when the unfortunate sexing begins: it looks like a bite on the cheek that lasts about four seconds. LOL.

The lady puffer ghosts her lover almost immediately after the sex. “She deposits her eggs, and then she’s gone,” the narrator says. Ice cold.

You can—and should—watch the entire clip below:

Big Pacific premieres June 21, 8 pm EST on PBS.


Space Writer, Gizmodo

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So that pattern of channels cuts the current down by 25 percent, allowing fine sand to accumulate there. It also directs sand-laden currents of water into that center area, where the suddenly slowed current lets the sand drop down.

Are there other applications for this kind of pattern? For instance, my university’s groundskeepers have to spend time and effort blowing leaves into piles for pickup and composting in the Fall. Could patterns like these be built into the landscaping, making areas that automatically accumulate leaves, while leaving walkways and other spaces relatively clear?

Can patterned profiles like these be used for energy generation from wind? Could they be built into channels in such a way that navigable channels can be kept clear of silt, obviating dredging?