Fish have feelings too.... Don't they??


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     Doesn't seem like it, does it? They don't scream or cry out or anything. No reaction whatsoever. Scientists say that fish are way different from mammals. They are too dumb, too different, too cold blooded, and too simple to feel pain. This topic is very controversial for many scientists.
     Few scientists say yes, fish do feel pain. They give the examples of lobster's shrieking as they are being boiled alive, but lobsters aren't technically fish they are crabs/cray. Another example scientists present is when a fish is flopping around out of water, it is said to be out of pain, but couldn't it also just mean they can't breathe. Since fish obviously can't breathe out of water, beached fish most likely flop around as an instinct of survival; trying to get back in the water and not die. Fish aren't like humans or warm blooded animals in anyway. Possibly they don't feel any pain or can't portray it as we do. 
     Penn State Professor, Victoria Braithwaite, says that fish can indeed feel pain. She says like any other organisms, fish are capable of experiencing pain and emotion. Dr. Sneddon is also another expert that agrees fish can feel pain. She tested an experiment with 20 rainbow trouts, divided into four groups. First group was injected with bee venom; Second group with acetic acid; Third group was injected with saline; Fourth group was handled by researchers with no injections. The fish with bee venom and acetic acid showed signs of "rocking motion" and they rubbed their lips onto the gravel in their tank and on the tank walls. Others argued that the fish in the experiment could be reacting neurologically to the high dose of toxin in them. It may just have proved that fish have resilience to pain. 
     James Rose on the other hand, finds it impossible for fish to feel pain. He argues that fish do not have consciousness or brain apparatus. To feel pain you need to have emotions, which fish do not have. He argues that because it looks and acts like pain, doesn't mean it's actual pain. 
     Can fish actually feel pain? Do they react to situations because they are in pain or is it a simple reflex? 
     Other sources/cites to look into: 
http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/outdoor-activities/fishing/fish-conservation/responsible-fishing/fish-pain.htm 

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/green_room/2009/05/frying_nemo.html 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2983045.stm 

http://www.livescience.com/7761-fish-feel-pain-study-finds.html 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=underwater-suffering-do-fish-feel-pain 

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2006/09/15/1733327.htm

7 Comments

I have also wondered this same question whenever i go fishing and catch a fish. I decided to see if I could find anymore information about this and decided to look at HowStuffWorks.com, fish do not have a amygdala, or the part in our brain that forms unpleasant memories. They do however "form sensory memories. For instance, trout can remember how to avoid getting caught in fishing nets months after the initial experience" (http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/outdoor-activities/fishing/fish-conservation/responsible-fishing/fish-pain1.htm). So whether they can feel the pain or not is still kind of a mystery they do find ways to try to avoid going into the same painful experiences again.

This post caught my eye because I am a big fly fisher. I fish mostly trout and it has crossed my mind if they could feel pain as I released them back into the water. Personally I do not believe that they can but I really have no information to believe that. I am interested to know if any research has been done on fish nerve endings similar to humans. I would think that without nerve endings they would not have the ability feel pain as mammals do. Also, if the nerve endings are connected to an area of their brain that can conduct the feeling of pain I think that this would be the most efficient way to test if fish have the ability to feel pain.

As an avid fisherman I have always wondered this myself. My one argument that would be for the fact that they feel pain is whenever I get a bite, the fish is my no means a happy camper. They will do anything to get off the hook, whether that be diving or jumping out of the water. However, might this attempt to get off the hook be due to the fact that they feel no pain? If you were captured and felt no pain, you would do just about anything for your freedom.

This is a very interesting topic for many reasons. Perhaps the most important implication, if scientists somehow proved that fish can feel pain, would be the ethical questions that come up when dealing with the treatment of cows and other animals that we eat. The RSPCA (Australia) has seemingly already tackled this issue, saying that the fish needs to be properly stunned before being bled out. Here are the two methods provided by the organization: http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-is-the-most-humane-way-to-kill-a-fish-intended-for-eating_451.html

This is a very interesting topic for many reasons. Perhaps the most important implication, if scientists somehow proved that fish can feel pain, would be the ethical questions that come up when dealing with the treatment of cows and other animals that we eat. The RSPCA (Australia) has seemingly already tackled this issue, saying that the fish needs to be properly stunned before being bled out. Here are the two methods provided by the organization: http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-is-the-most-humane-way-to-kill-a-fish-intended-for-eating_451.html

This is a very interesting topic for many reasons. Perhaps the most important implication, if scientists somehow proved that fish can feel pain, would be the ethical questions that come up when dealing with the treatment of cows and other animals that we eat. The RSPCA (Australia) has seemingly already tackled this issue, saying that the fish needs to be properly stunned before being bled out. Here are the two methods provided by the organization: http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-is-the-most-humane-way-to-kill-a-fish-intended-for-eating_451.html

As far as trying to get off the hook goes, it could just be a survival instinct, and generally, they are out of the water when you see them flopping around, probably due to a lack of oxygen for them. I'm not sure that constitutes pain. It's hard to tell because we can never simply ask a fish if they feel pain, and measuring pain in them is difficult because we don't know how they express pain, if they even do. I think the attempt to study it was a good one, but the answers did leave a lot of room for discussion. Quick question though, was the article saying that only mammals have the capability of feeling pain? What about amphibians? Or reptiles?

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