Can mammals that spend time in the water smell odors under water? Of course they can, but no researcher is going to take a big sniff under water to find out!
Being able to smell helps us to learn important information about our surroundings – smells can attract or warn of danger. But it has always been thought that semi-aquatic animals could never smell odors under water. Animal researchers at Vanderbilt University were aware that water shrews and star-nosed moles release bubbles constantly when they are under water, but they didn’t know why. The star-nosed mole is amazing by itself. Its nose has 16 pink tentacles, giving this strange-looking creature its name. So they watched the animals under water on high speed video. They saw the creatures exhaling and then re-inhaling the bubbles at the rate of ten times a second. That led them to wonder whether the animals could be detecting odors under water. As a test, they placed food in the tank but separated it from the test subjects with a screen so there was no physical contact. As the animals were tested they excitedly targeted in on the food source, demonstrating that they were indeed detecting the odor of wanted food.
Since these creatures make their living under water, God has given them the amazing and surprising ability to smell under water.