Labor Day

Labor Day

In honor of the day that celebrates those who labor, we take a break from our usual commentary on the communication of our fellows, and kick back with a day at the ocean.

Accustomed as we are to observing communication behavior, however, we amuse ourselves by noting how ocean-going creatures, other than humans, conduct themselves. This is a rudimentary observation, however, conducted from a beach chair, behind a book, and thru lotion-spotted sunglasses, so don’t look for a scientific report. The only question guiding this study is whether there are observable commonalities between the ocean critters and the land critters.

Survival seems to be the primary activity of everyone, altho the needs of the ocean critters are basic and uncomplicated, and the communications required to achieve them are direct and clear. It is interesting to watch the ocean critters while sitting next to a tribe of land critters who are communicating their survival needs. Back- to- basics thinking isn’t new but this idle comparison is fun. And again, unscientific.

Here are some observed commonalities: Everyone wants to feel safe and to have food; there is some ranking of privilege; there is some sharing of wealth. Perhaps there is some lightheartedness to be seen in all participants, as well, but maybe this is just conjecture. Let’s look at the ocean guys:

– The gulls, usually on tour with a friend or two, collide in frantic clouds that follow the returning fishing boats, and they broadcast the necessary info: Here’s food! I want some! Sharing is…possible!

– The seals slide through the water with periodic periscopic inspections, sometimes engaging in barking dialogues with anyone silly enough to respond to them, then assemble atop one another on an outcropping of sand where they growl and honk warnings and assurances: Hurry up and eat! It’s safe here! Come on up!

– And the sharks: Silently patrolling, always moving, they don’t broadcast their presence or work in teams. Their communication with one another goes unobserved and like many high status predators they are known chiefly by their actions. Eating is important to them but they have manners: they like to sample their meals before committing to them, and they usually don’t take more than they can eat. We also know that they don’t like humans: as the shark said to the clown, “You taste funny.”

I told you it wouldn’t be a scientific report… Happy Labor Day!