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Study Suggests Crabs Can Feel Pain 628

tritonman writes "A new scientific study suggests that crabs can feel and remember pain. From the article: '"More research is needed in this area where a potentially very large problem is being ignored," said Elwood. Legislation to protect crustaceans has been proposed but it is likely to cover only scientific research. Millions of crustacean are caught or reared in aquaculture for the food industry. There is no protection for these animals (with the possible exception of certain states in Australia) as the presumption is that they cannot experience pain.' Perhaps soon there will be a study to determine that vegetables feel pain as well, then all of the vegans will only be allowed to eat rocks."


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Study Suggests Crabs Can Feel Pain

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  • Re:Does it matter... (Score:5, Informative)

    by orclevegam ( 940336 ) on Friday March 27, 2009 @04:55PM (#27363329) Journal

    if they feel pain? Cattle defiantly do, we still eat them.. As, I'm sure, a wide variety of other food stuffs feels pain as well..

    I think the point is more that it's traditional to kill most crustaceans in a decidedly nasty manner. In the case of crabs (and sometimes lobsters) they're boiled alive, and in the case of lobsters they're often ripped in half (tail end is twisted off while it's still alive). The issue here would be that if they can be demonstrated to feel pain (sort of assumed they do myself, most all animals do) then there would be a demand for them to be "humanely" killed prior to being cooked.

  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:01PM (#27363439)

    It really depends on what is meant when you say 'feel'. The researchers seem to be using a defination that means "reacts to and learns from" which to me is not only obvious it is also pointless. The only definition of 'feel' that matters to me is the one that implies consciousness. This is pretty pointless unless you can demonstrate that the crab has a stream of thought that goes something like "Ow! that freakin hurts, better not do that again". Even that won't stop me eating meat, one animal killing and eating another is as natural as it gets, and we evolved canines for a reason.

  • Required reading (Score:5, Informative)

    by yali ( 209015 ) on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:03PM (#27363463)

    From David Foster Wallace's now-classic essay in Gourmet []:

    Even if you cover the kettle and turn away, you can usually hear the cover rattling and clanking as the lobster tries to push it off. Or the creature's claws scraping the sides of the kettle as it thrashes around. The lobster, in other words, behaves very much as you or I would behave if we were plunged into boiling water (with the obvious exception of screaming). A blunter way to say this is that the lobster acts as if it's in terrible pain...

    There happen to be two main criteria that most ethicists agree on for determining whether a living creature has the capacity to suffer and so has genuine interests that it may or may not be our moral duty to consider. One is how much of the neurological hardware required for pain-experience the animal comes equipped with--nociceptors, prostaglandins, neuronal opioid receptors, etc. The other criterion is whether the animal demonstrates behavior associated with pain. And it takes a lot of intellectual gymnastics and behaviorist hairsplitting not to see struggling, thrashing, and lid-clattering as just such pain-behavior.

  • by jamie ( 78724 ) * Works for Slashdot <> on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:36PM (#27363877) Journal

    My "vegetarian" sister and her child say that they refuse to eat meat, then they will turn around and gobble down a fish or some shrimp. ... A lot of these "But I'll Eat Fish!" vegetarian people are giant hypocrites.

    Yes. Actual vegetarians are often annoyed by pescetarians who incorrectly label themselves as vegetarians.

    They reflect badly on the rest of us, as people sometimes jump to conclusions and assume all or most vegetarians are hypocrites. But they also dilute the term itself, to the point where some restaurants and food service workers come to believe that if someone identifies as a vegetarian, it's okay to feed them fish products. That's unfair.

  • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Informative)

    by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <.Satanicpuppy. .at.> on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:41PM (#27363951) Journal

    Did you know if you dump some instant grits on a fire ant mound the workers will take them in and feed them to the queen, and that she will then die as they slowly expand in her body, leaving her foul spawn to wither and die leaving an empty hellmound full of nothing but silence and despair?

    Good stuff.

    Incidentally, they kill scallops the same way as lobsters: by dumping them in boiling water. It's quick, and about as humane as it gets for something that can't otherwise be killed without wasting the meat.

  • Re:Required reading (Score:5, Informative)

    by publiclurker ( 952615 ) on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:52PM (#27364101)
    For a lobster, you can put a chef's knife through their head. That should be quick and painless enough. I've always done this. Mainly so I don't have to deal with boiling water and claws at the same time.
  • Re:Required reading (Score:5, Informative)

    by thestallion ( 310941 ) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:13PM (#27365233)

    I have to disagree. I dive for lobsters and will sometimes bring them from the bottom of the ocean to my kitchen in about 30 minutes. These are California Spiny Lobsters, can't speak for all the other species.

    But some of them are particularly lively, and will definitely thrash for a few seconds in the boiling water. Much unlike the movement you might see if you put them into cold water. If it's sufficiently hot though, I think the shock kills them pretty quickly (about 5 seconds).

    When you REALLY notice their apparent ability to sense pain is when you have to "clean" them, which involves shoving a long, barbed object (like a piece of their antennae) up their rectum, so you can pull out their intestine. They usually remain pretty calm as you handle them, even if you flip them over and touch the underside of their tail a bit. But the moment you try to jam that thing up their ass, the really lively/alert lobsters are sure to resist and flail about excessively. I truly think it is mighty unpleasant for them.

    One time, I had one that was so effective at resisting the required cleaning, I was unable to get the job done. So I tried running it under hot water in hopes of killing it. Seeing as just being under the sink is nowhere near as fatal as being thrown into boiling water, I witnessed a lobster thrashing about, apparently in pain, from being held under such hot water. It did seem to shock him into compliance though after 20-30 seconds.

    Anyway, I feel bad for the lobsters, and really dislike feeling as is I am causing them pain. In the future, I'm going to go with the knife-through-the-head method of killing, as recommended by one of my dive buddies (and someone earlier in this thread).

  • Re:Required reading (Score:4, Informative)

    by HeadlessNotAHorseman ( 823040 ) on Saturday March 28, 2009 @07:43AM (#27369195) Homepage

    >>I have seen chefs put lobsters in the freezer so they (presumably)
    >>go to sleep and die quietly.
    >>Is this more or less humane I wonder.

    I would argue that it is probably not humane. My mother-in-law once put a fresh crab in the freezer, based on the same logic. However the next day when she retrieved it (I was a witness to this; I am vegetarian whereas she is not) the crab was still moving. It was still alive, and whilst the extremities were frozen, it was clearly awake and presumably in some level of pain (I've never had frostbite, but according to wikipedia there is some level of pain involved).
    I was not able to gauge how much pain (if any) it was in, but if crustaceans do suffer from pain due to frostbite then this would be a very cruel way to treat them since they appear to remain "awake" for some time as the extremities freeze up.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson