He first encountered Yoriko while supervising the construction of an underwater Shinto temple gate in Japan.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 24, 2023. It has since been updated.
It might sound surreal but Japan's Tateyama Bay has a beautiful story to tell about the friendship between a local diver and a fish for nearly 30 years. A scuba diver Hiroyuki Arakawa first met Yoriko, an Asian sheepshead wrasse when he was supervising the construction of an underwater Shinto temple gate 56 feet beneath the surface of the bay, according to GoodNewsNetwork.
He started diving when he was 18 years old. "Being in the water, you can be so isolated. It's your own world. I like being in the deep waters," Arakawa told Great Big Story. He turned 79 in 2021 and he still loved to dive in the deep water. And his friendship with Yoriko is one of the highlights of his dive.
Description in the original post:— Tinus Nel (@tytantinus) May 27, 2023
Hiroyuki Arakawa, 79, says he's been friends with the same odd-looking Asian sheepshead wrasse named Yoriko for the past 25 years. He originally found her on the brink of death and took it upon himself to feed her five crabs a day pic.twitter.com/XvaHEk748b
He said in the interview, "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." During one such dive, he found out that Yoriko's mouth had been badly injured but still she came to meet him.
Hiroyuki Arakawa, 79, has been friends with the same odd-looking Asian sheepshead wrasse named Yoriko for the past 25 years.— 🌙 (@alilmoonn) May 29, 2023
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. Arakawa said.
So, realizing that she might be unable to catch her own food, Arakawa spent the next 10 days hand-feeding Yoriko, meat from crabs that he hammered open for her near the temple gate. "I think anyone can get an animal's attention by feeding them. But to touch or interact with them is harder to accomplish," he said.
Yoriko quickly recovered from her injuries and then their bond became even stronger. “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,” Arakawa said. “I have an amazing sense of accomplishment in my heart.”
Animals do love to create a strong bond with humans. In another heart-warming story, during the pandemic, a group of dolphins expressed their desire for human interaction in Queensland, Australia. The dolphins reportedly began showing up at the café with gifts in their mouths. These gifts included sea shells, coral, wood, and even a starfish, and the Barnacles Cafe and Dolphin Feeding team was quick to take notice.
The Barnacles Cafe team wrote on Facebook, "The pod has been bringing us regular gifts, showing us how much they're missing the public interaction and attention." The team also shared the gifts they had received from the sea creatures, which appeared to be mostly from a then-29-year-old alpha male dolphin called Mystique. Australian outlet ABC reports that Mystique had previously shown up with tokens of appreciation to the feeders and visitors, but this behavior increased during the pandemic.
The volunteers who worked with the dolphins were also surprised by their behavior. Lyn McPherson, a volunteer, said 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."