If I drive by someone’s house and I think of them, and they somehow at the same time think of me, would you call that communication? It could be a form of telepathy, or it could be random coincidence.

The same thing could happen between two people far apart from each other. Either way, it would be cool to think of it as a special connection between two people.

Of course, if you want to make sure the person you think of receives your message and you receive their response, you would call or text them on your cell phone. You don’t even have to be in close proximity for the cell phone to reach; in fact, the phone can connect two people over thousands of miles. Amazing technology.

Communication between two people is more than just talking; it includes sounds, touch and visual signals. You can possibly think of other ways to communicate with technology.

How do animals, specifically those in the ocean, communicate with one another under water?

Sound travels fine underwater; in fact, it travels faster because the water molecules are packed more densely than those in air.

As kids, we used to spend much of our summers in the swimming pool and we would lie on the bottom of the pool and try to talk to each other and then try to understand what the other said. It is difficult, but not impossible.

The difference between us talking underwater and whales communicating with other whales by sound is that our words are formed in our air-filled mouth and pushed out in a bubble of breath, hindering them from clearly traveling through the water.

The whales release sound waves directly into the water with much clearer effects. In addition, our ears are filled with air and made to sort out sounds in air, while whales have evolved their ears to use fat tissue to receive and transfer the sound to their inner ear.

I just read about a study by Cornell University that used submarine surveillance technology from the Navy to listen for whales in the Atlantic. This technology was sophisticated enough to hear whales all the way from Newfoundland to Bermuda. Moreover, it could show that a whale off the coast of Newfoundland could hear the song of a whale off the coast of Bermuda.

In other words, whales had long-distance calls long before the invention of cell phones! As it turns out, their long-distance calling system also has a GPS of sorts: They use sounds to map geographical features in the ocean and use them for long-distance navigation.

The researchers raised growing concerns that anywhere near the shores, the ocean gets so loud from human noise pollution that it is hard to hear the whale calls through the interference.

Think of it as trying to talk to your girlfriend or boyfriend at a concert: You may succeed in shouting a sentence at her/him, but a longer string of information is not going to get through.

While I imagine you could use the text function on your cell phone again, the whales, whose voices have carried across the ocean for millions of years, have never evolved the use of cell phones.

There are other animals in the ocean that also use sound. Apparently, snapping shrimp sound like the popping of popcorn. The sounds that are created by their claws, are used to stun prey.

The masters at this art are in the group of pistol shrimp, which can produce a sound of up to 210 decibels. This compares to 150 decibels for a shotgun shot.

Not only is that sound so loud, but also the implosion of the air bubble that is shot out from the shrimp’s claw creates heat, which for a very short moment may reach as much as 8,000 degrees Celsius — as hot as the surface of the sun. Not bad for an animal the size of my little finger.

Personally, I am not one to approve of carrying pistols around and would probably not enjoy hearing gunshot sounds while peacefully scuba diving — not that the shrimp need my approval.

Another shrimp uses sound for advertising: Some cleaner shrimp advertise their services to approaching fish by clapping the claws together. 

Does that mean fish can hear? They don’t have ears. A fish cannot hear sound, but it can feel the soundwave with its lateral line. Thus, it can respond to the call of the cleaner shrimp.

However, the powerful blast of the pistol shrimp can instantly kill a small fish. So, what if a fish swam by the hiding place of another fish and thought of him, and the fish in its hiding place was at the same time thinking of the one swimming by? Would this be considered communication?

Here, it is not telepathy because the lateral line organ of fish can actually feel the displacement of the water as the fish friend swims by. It is an amazing world underwater where senses are used somewhat differently!

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