Potentially Habitable Ocean Worlds

These planets would presumably have no exposed surface whatsoever. Which gets me thinking again about a scenario I thought of a few years ago : a galaxy where most civilised planets are waterworlds with no way of achieving spaceflight. Species from rocky terrestrial worlds would be at a major advantage as traders going between these worlds.
Obviously an ocean covered planet could evolve life and therefore intelligence, but could its intelligent inhabitant develop a technology in the absence of fire? Would they even need to? So much of human technological development was stimulated by our biological deficits. We needed weapons to compensate for lack of strength and big teeth, we needed fire and clothing to compensate for lack of fur. An intelligent aquatic species would have social structure and language, but might not feel the need for any technology at all, unless it was for protection from stronger but less intelligent predators. But their languages and social relations might be far more exquisitely developed as all inventive energies would have been channelled into these areas.

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