Editor’s Note: Empty All Cages does not condone tests done on any living creatures, even if it proves they can feel pain. But the tests do show even scientists know these facts to be true, yet they won’t stand up to the profiteers in saying that, as with ALL creatures, crustaceans and fish suffer at our hands. Posting findings from 2009 is purposeful- sadly, these facts have been known for years.
Source: Discovery News 3/27/2009, Wikipedia, PeTA, Victoria Braithwaite/Amazon Books
Ripping the legs off live crabs and crowding lobsters into seafood market tanks are just two of the many practices that may warrant reassessment, given two new studies that indicate crustaceans feel pain and stress.
The findings add to a growing body of evidence that virtually all animals, including fish, shellfish and insects, can suffer. Robert Elwood, the lead author of both papers, explained to Discovery News that pain allows an individual to be “aware of the potential tissue damage” while experiencing “a huge negative emotion or motivation that it learns avoid that situation in the future.”
Both pain and stress are therefore key survival mechanisms (in all animals including humans). Crustaceans such as lobsters can feel pain and stress, despite differences in their nervous systems compared to mammals, say scientists.
Elwood, a professor in the School of Biological Sciences at The Queen’s University in Belfast, and colleague Mirjam Appel studied hermit crabs collected from rock pools in County Down, Northern Ireland. All of the crabs survived the experiments and were later released back into their native habitat.
(animal lover/activist warning: reading the following tests is disturbing)
Elwood and Appel gave small electric shocks to some of the crabs within their shells. When the researchers provided vacant shells, some crabs — but only the ones that had been shocked —left their old shells and entered the new ones, showing stress-related behaviors like grooming of the abdomen or rapping of the abdomen against the empty shell.
Grooming, as for a person licking a burnt finger, “is a protective motor reaction and viewed as a sign of pain in vertebrates,” the researchers wrote. It has been thought that the behavior of crustaceans is mostly reflexive, but the fact that they showed signs of physical distress at the same time they changed a behavior — in this case, moving into another shell — suggest they feel pain as well, according to the researchers.
The research has been accepted for publication in the Journal Animal Behavior.
For the second paper, slated for publication in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science, Elwood, along with Stuart Barr and Lynsey Patterson, outline seven reasons, with supportive findings, they believe crustaceans suffer.
For one thing, they argue, crustaceans possess “a suitable central nervous system and receptors.” They learn to avoid a negative stimulus after a potentially painful experience. They also engage in protective reactions, such as limping and rubbing, after being hurt.
Physiological changes, including release of adrenal-like hormones, also occur when pain or stress is suspected. And the animals make future decisions based on past likely painful events.
If crabs are given medicine — anesthetics or analgesics — they appear to feel relieved, showing fewer responses to negative stimuli. And finally, the researchers wrote, crustaceans possess “high cognitive ability and sentience.”
In the past, some scientists reasoned that since pain and stress are associated with the neocortex in humans, all creatures must have this brain structure in order to experience such feelings. More recent studies, however, suggest that crustacean brains and nervous systems are configured differently. For example, fish, lobsters and octopi all have vision, Elwood said, despite lacking a visual cortex, which allows humans to see.
It was also thought that since many invertebrates cast off damaged appendages, it was not harmful for humans to remove legs, tails and other body parts from live crustaceans. Another study led by Patterson, however, found that when humans twisted off legs from crabs, the stress response was so profound that some individuals later died or could not regenerate the lost appendages.
Chris Sherwin, a senior research fellow in the Clinical Veterinary Science division at the University of Bristol, has also studied pain in invertebrates.
Sherwin told Discovery News, “The question of whether invertebrates experience pain is fundamental to our legislation that protects animals and our behavior, attitude and use of these highly complex organisms.”
When fish are yanked from the water, they begin to suffocate. Their gills often collapse, and their swim bladders can rupture because of the sudden change in pressure. Numerous scientific reports from around the world confirm that fish feel pain.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and University of Glasgow studied the pain receptors in fish and found that they were strikingly similar to those of mammals; the researchers concluded that “fish do have the capacity for pain perception and suffering.”
From Wikipedia, also in 2009
“In a 2009 paper, Janicke Nordgreen from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Joseph Garner from Purdue University, and thers, published research which concluded that goldfish do feel pain, and that their reactions to pain are much like those of humans. “There has been an effort by some to argue that a fish’s response to a noxious stimulus is merely a reflexive action, but that it didn’t really feel pain,” Garner said. “We wanted to see if fish responded to potentially painful stimuli in a reflexive way or a more clever way.” The fish were divided into two groups, one given morphine and the other saline. They were then subjected to unpleasant temperatures. The fish that were given saline subsequently acted with defensive behaviours, indicating anxiety, wariness and fear, whereas those given morphine did not. Nordgreen said that the behavioural differences they found showed that fish feel both reflexive and cognitive pain. “The experiment shows that fish do not only respond to painful stimuli with reflexes, but change their behavior also after the event,” Nordgreen said. “Together with what we know from experiments carried out by other groups, this indicates that the fish consciously perceive the test situation as painful and switch to behaviors indicative of having been through an aversive experience.”
Lobsters are very sensitive to the quality of water and can die if there is too much waste in it. To prevent the lobsters’ excrement from contaminating the tank water with ammonia, merchants will usually not feed the lobsters while they are waiting to be bought. Often lobsters starve or try to eat each other. Ignoring proven facts, people around the world eat live crustaceans, baby octopi and fish. One such example is Odori ebi, lit. “dancing shrimp.” Its a sashimi delicacy in Japan. It includes live baby pink shrimp wriggling their legs and waving their antenna as they are eaten. The meal is prepared rapidly and quickly served to ensure the shrimp are still alive. In a parallel to the drunken shrimp above, dancing shrimp are usually dunked in sake. Dancing shrimp are also eaten in Thailand, where they are known as Goong Ten, กุ้งเต้น.
by Victoria Braithwaite 2010
Each year millions of fish are caught on barbed hooks or left to die by suffocation on the decks of fishing boats. But while there has been increasing interest in recent years in the welfare of mammals, fish are thought to be too different–too dim-witted, too cold-blooded, too simple–to merit our concern.
Here, biologist Victoria Braithwaite explores the question of fish pain and fish suffering, explaining what science can now tell us about fish behavior, and examining the related ethical questions about how we should treat these animals. Fish have in the past been portrayed as slow, cold automata with a very simple brain that generates stereotyped behavior. But Braithwaite presents new scientific evidence that seriously challenges this view. Indeed, there is a growing body of science demonstrating that fish are far smarter and more cognitively competent than we have previously suspected. Several fish species are surprisingly intelligent and research has shown that they can have both accurate and long lasting memories, which in some cases, such as migrating salmon, can span years. Moreover, the author demonstrates that fish have more in common with other vertebrates than we think. Their overall physiology, for instance, shares many similarities with other vertebrates–even ourselves. The way that they respond to stressful situations, the so-called “stress response,” is strikingly similar. After experiencing a stressful event, our bodies release cortisol into the blood, and the same is true in fish.
Victoria Braithwaite is one of the key scientists working on fish pain and she is also actively involved with both the fishing industry and the angling world, helping them sort through the implications of these findings. She concludes that scientific evidence suggests that we should widen to fish the protection currently given to birds and animals.
- Reveals how scientists are discovering that fish are more intelligent and more responsive than we have been inclined to believe.
- Argues that the latest scientific evidence suggests that we should widen to fish the protection currently given to birds and mammals.
- Victoria Braithwaite is one of the key scientists working on the subject. She was one of a team who demonstrated, several years ago and to wide media attention, that fish have specialized pain receptors. Here, she explores the philosophical and ethical issues in an accessible and balanced way.
“Braithwaite is at her best when conveying the sophistication of fish behavior. She does an admirable job of convincing readers that fish are smart.” — The Quarterly Review of Biology
“A timely, important and interesting book.”–New Scientist
“Do Fish Feel Pain? is a fascinating excursion through the recent studies of the surprisingly complex behaviour of fish.”–Nature
“Do fish feel pain? by the renowned scientist, Victoria Braithwaite, is a very important read for those interested in the general topic of pain in animals, especially because it has been long assumed that fish are not sentient beings and are not all that intelligent.”– Marc Bekoff, Psychology Today
He says,” Bearing in mind the book is written by “a dispassionate marine biologist”, I immediately found it disappointing that the publishers should choose to have the cover showing a number of lures with large hooks, as this gives a wrong first impression about the content. Whilst it is obvious to anyone picking up the book that recreational angling will get more than a few mentions; bearing in mind the effects of commercial fishing having a significantly greater effect on world fish stocks, I would have considered something on that aspect to be more aligned to the content. The cover illustration?? Really??