Researchers Shock Crabs to Discover They Feel Pain
In a new study that seems like proof of something that should be common sense, researchers found that crabs prefer to avoid painful experiences.
The Queen’s University Belfast study gave small electric shocks to the crabs, who were found to vacate their favored dark shelters to avoid more jolts.
Considering they had to cause pain to discover that crabs don’t like pain, this certainly isn’t a test animal activists will approve of, but they might like the argument the researchers are trying to make with this information. They hope the food industry will rethink how live crustaceans are treated.
Irish Examiner reported that expert Professor Bob Elwood said, “In contrast to mammals, crustaceans are given little or no protection as the presumption is that they cannot experience pain. Our research suggests otherwise. More consideration of the treatment of these animals is needed as a potentially very large problem is being ignored.”
In this test, 90 crabs were placed in a tank with two dark shelters as options. After they chose one, they were given rounds of shocks to see what they would do. Professor Elwood said about the results, “Having experienced two rounds of shocks the crabs learned to avoid the shelter where they received the shock. They were willing to give up their hideaway in order to avoid the source of their probable pain.”
Whether it’s boiling crabs and lobsters alive or housing them in noisy bright crowded tanks at supermarkets, in the effort to serve fresh seafood, crustaceans are sadly treated as little more than objects. Perhaps conclusive data that crabs feel pain will make an impact as to how they are treated.
When it comes to keeping crustaceans safe and thinking about the ethical implications of the way we treat them, Considering the Lobster by David Foster Wallace still takes top marks.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock