Specializations > Psycholinguistics

Animal interaction/communication

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Ok, I know this is pretty unrelated to linguistics, but this behavior from an eel surprised me a lot, so I think it can remind us that animals may be thinking/doing a lot more than we usually assume.


I actually had an encounter like that with a sea lion once. I was in the Galapagos and was ahead of the rest of the group for snorkeling (they'd stopped at the bathrooms), and there were two sea lions sitting on the dock. They jumped in the water when they saw me, but one stayed pretty close and then once I got in swam up to me and did a few laps around me. I was pretty sure it was just curious and playing, though it definitely had some teeth (so Spanish lobo del mar 'sea wolf' isn't too far off).
I'll attach an image from that, which isn't zoomed in, just of the sea lion swimming around me.

Again, this is off topic, but it does remind me of the prairie dogs video I posted a while ago (can get the link again if someone needs it) and other discussion of surprising animal communication.

Perhaps, or perhaps this eel just likes the free fish. :)

It seems like it is more than just hungry-- aware of who this is (I suppose another diver could try out the same strategy to test it) and actually likes interaction? Or maybe just aware that interaction means more fish? But that seems like an odd behavior to guess.

Sure, why wouldn't the eel know who this lady is? If someone started showing up at my house periodically with a no-strings-attached prosciutto and manchego sandwich, I'd remember it too!

Animals are aware of plenty of things, including individuals of other species over periods of time. There's nothing controversial about that. Whether they *communicate* in more than a signal-oriented behaviorist sense, however, is a very different question.

Right. I'm not claiming this is any evidence of communication, just what I think is fairly unexpected behavior. It seems to be behaving more like a cat than an eel. (But I wouldn't say that the way cats act suggests they necessarily 'communicate' in any way beyond other animals.)


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