Getting Social Underwater

 A coral grouper (Plectropomus leopardus) being cleaned by a cleaner shrimp (Urocaridella antonbruunii), in the Maldives. --- Image by © Jason Isley - Scubazoo/Science Faction/Corbis

A coral grouper (Plectropomus leopardus) being cleaned by a cleaner shrimp (Urocaridella antonbruunii), in the Maldives. — Image by © Jason Isley – Scubazoo/Science Faction/Corbis

Let’s talk social behavior. We know much about human relations and the social activities of animals like the chimpanzee. But how about underwater? Yes, the waters, too, are filled with social interactions if rapport between coral groupers and giant moray eels are anything to go by. Several studies have followed how the duo teams up to hunt and have their own ‘code’ of vigorous shimmying, head-stands and head-shaking to communicate about prey. Now, while gestures are commonplace among humans and are expected of intelligent animals like monkeys and dogs, how do fish manage this complex communication with their tiny brains? Redouan Bshary may be the man with the answers.

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