Two old friends. Screen capture by TheMindCircle

25 Years and Going Strong — Watch This Japanese Man Visit with His Best Fish Friend

If you’ve ever had a long-term friendship, then there’s a good chance you know how special these friendships can be. And some friendships are unbreakable, spanning decades. Sometimes, if we’re fortunate, we form connections with other creatures, and these can last a lifetime as well.

The friendship between this man and this huge wrasse has lasted more than two decades. Screen capture by Great Big Story via YouTube

And you can bet that when diver Hiroyuki Arakawa was hired to oversee an underwater Shinto Shrine, he wasn’t expecting to form a lasting friendship with a large and inquisitive fish.

But friendship is exactly what happened

The shrine is located 56 feet below Japan’s Tateyama Bay, and it forms a sanctuary for many species of fish. In the years since he began caring for the shrine, Arakawa has befriended many of the marine creatures living there. And one Asian sheepshead wrasse proved very friendly.

Yoriko is actually a male Asian sheepshead wrasse or Kobudai. Screen capture by Great Big Story via YouTube

Over time, he named the friendly, curious fish Yoriko and they formed a bond that has lasted for 25 years, TheMindCircle reports. And recently the world got to see that bond showcased in a viral video. In the video, which we posted below, you can see 79-year-old Hiroyuki planting a gentle kiss on Yoriko’s head.

Scientists have recently discovered something truly amazing about fish — at least one species of fish — the archerfish, can recognize human faces, CNN reports.

“Two images of human faces were presented to fish by scientists and the fish were trained to choose one by spitting their jet at the picture,” said Dr. Cait Newport, of the University of Oxford. “The researcher chose to make things [sic] little difficult. They made the picture black and white and the head shapes were evened out. You would be of the thought that would throw the fish for a loop. But no they were able to pick the face they were familiar with and with more accuracy: 86 percent!”

We certainly don’t know if all of the world’s 33,000+ fish species are capable of this, but it highlights the fact that fish are certainly sentient creatures.

Maybe that’s why this friendship has lasted for so long

Fish are extremely curious and will often closely approach people. Screen capture by Great Big Story via YouTube

At one time Yoriko was badly injured and too ill to forage for food. Arakawa was worried he would lose his friend, so he provided the huge sheepshead wrasse with a seafood meal every day (five to ten crabs) to help regain its strength.

After all, isn’t that what we do for our friends when they are sick? And it seems as if Yoriko hasn’t forgotten, and almost seems playful in some instances you could almost swear the fish is asking for a head scratch sometimes.

But like many fish, Yoriko is a gender-bender

This beautiful photo shows a female and male Asian sheepshead wrasse. Photo by Tony Wu courtesy of BBC Blue Planet II

In the video below, Arakawa refers to Yoriko as a she, and at one time, he was. You’re not reading that wrong. It’s just that many species of fish, including the Asian sheepshead wrasse (Semicossyphus reticulatus), can easily change their sex, notes the BBC’s BluePlanetII.

The big knot on Yoriko’s head means this fish is likely a male. Screen capture by Great Big Story via YouTube

A beautiful friendship that has withstood time

Clearly, Arakawa is lucky to have met such a fascinating creature and the fact that they have been friends through thick and thin is pretty amazing. As someone who has spent hundreds of hours snorkeling, I can tell you that fish are in fact, very curious about us. They will come out of their hiding places to get a look at the strange creature floating close by.

Whether you snorkel or dive, it’s one of the best ways I know of to really see nature up close. It’s nothing short of amazing. Marine creatures are really much more complex than most people realize. I’m glad I get to share their world.

Featured image by TheMindCircle

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