Hiroyuki Arakawa is a unique 79-year-old man. For being nearly an octogenarian, he lives a more active life than people decades his junior. He has been a professional for over sixty years, and he’s cultivated some interesting friendships during that time.
Arakawa lives in Tateyama, Japan, where he’s been entrusted with an exclusive job. Arakawa looks after a Shinto shrine that is located 56-feet underwater in Tateyama Bay. While looking after the shrine over the decades, Arakawa made friends with one of the bay’s peculiar inhabitants.
Yoriko is an Asian sheepshead wrasse and Arakawa’s good friend. He has known the bizarre-looking fish for over 25 years. To call her attention, Arakawa hits the an underwater bell at the shrine’s gate and Yoriko eagerly swims over to greet him.
Arakawa believes that he first met Yoriko about 30 years ago. She was in bad shape, exhausted and unable to feed herself. Arakawa decided to step-in and save her life. He fed her five crabs a day for 10 consecutive days, and Yoriko’s condition improved.
“I think anyone can get an animal’s attention by feeding them,” Arakawa said in a video. “But to touch or interact with them is harder to accomplish. I’m not sure it it’s the nature of the kobudai (local name from Asian sheepshead wrasse) or not, but it’s probably because there is a sense of trust between us.”
In another video, Yoriko seems to be completely infatuated with her old friend. She swims very close to Arakawa and watches him very closely. Yoriko seemed intrigued when Arakawa took his mask off to give her a proper kiss.
You wouldn’t think that anybody could be friends with a shark, but it is possible. Diver Rick Anderson found a friend in a Port Jackson shark off the coast of Nobbys Beach in New South Wales, Australia. The shark doesn’t have a name, but she is a six-foot-long cuddle monster.
Anderson first met the shark about seven years ago, when she was a pup, and could fit in the palm of his hand. Returning over the years, the shark would remember Anderson.
“Then over the following seasons, she’d recognize me and would swim up to me for a pat and cuddle,” Anderson told The Dodo. “She soon got used to me – to the point where she will sim up to me when I’m going past, and tap me on the legs until I hold my arms out for her to lay on for a cuddle.”
Famous Australian ocean experts Ron and Valerie Taylor took some amazing ocean wildlife footage over the years. But some of their most incredible footage was of Valerie’s relationship with a spotted moral eel named Honey. Valerie and Honey first met in 1974, off the coast of Banda Island in Indonesia. The eel seemed skeptical of Valerie at first, but over the years the two developed a special bond.
Valerie is positive that Honey recognizes her and that she is capable of real affection.
“She didn’t just come out. She swam around me, she swam between my legs, she nuzzled my face, and I thought this is amazing,” Valerie said in a video. “And after that, we have been great friends, and now when she sees me coming... and I might not see her for a year (once I didn’t see her for three years!), this thing comes out across the sand, and comes over to me and hugs and loves... there is no doubt in my mind that eel really likes me.”
There is some evidence to show that fish are capable of showing some emotion. Scientists exposed zebrafish to stressors and found that their body temperatures rose in response to the stress. This response, called “emotional fever” was only thought to occur in mammals, birds and reptiles.
A recent study also found that fish can recognize faces. Scientist used the tropical archerfish for the experiment because archerfish can clearly exhibit choice by spitting jets of water out of their mouths.
“Scientists presented the fish with two images of human faces and trained them to choose one by spitting their jets at that picture,” Dr. Cait Newport from Oxford University told CNN. “The researchers decided to make things a little harder. They took the pictures and made them black and white and evened out the head shapes. You’d think that would throw the fish for a loop. But no, they were able to pick the familiar face even then – and with more accuracy: 86%!”
So, there is a good chance that Yoriko can recognize Arakawa. Arakawa thinks that Yoriko kind of looks like someone you may know, too. Arakawa is positive that Yoriko knows him and that she trusts him because he helped save her life all those years ago.
“For me to be able to do that, I am proud,” Arakawa said. “I have an amazing sense of accomplishment in my heart.”