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Water Mastery (Ex)
A water elemental gains a +1 bonus on attack and damage rolls if both it and its opponent are touching water. If the opponent or the elemental is touching the ground, the elemental takes a –4 penalty on attack and damage rolls. These modifiers apply to bull rush and overrun maneuvers, whether the elemental is initiating or resisting these kinds of attacks.
What is meant with ground? English is a foreign language for me, so does the developers mean earth?
Does the water elemental take the penalty on a ship?
This is an interesting question that I've seen argued in different ways. A common definition of "the ground" is the surface of the Earth, or of Golarion. This leaves a lot of questions open. Others have said it means any solid surface in this context.
The water elemental would not get a bonus. I wouldn't give it a penalty either.