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January 16, 2013

New Research: Crabs and Shrimp DO Feel Pain

While it was just determined by a University of Wisconsin professor that fish do not feel pain, a new study from across the pond claims that crustaceans do – well, kind-of, sort-of, anyway.

While it was just determined by a University of Wisconsin professor that fish do not feel pain, a new study from across the pond claims that crustaceans do – well, kind-of, sort-of, anyway.

So says Professor Bob Elwood, of the School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, who experimented with 90 crabs, administering electrical shocks to the crustaceans and then observing their subsequent reactions and behaviors.

“Having experienced two rounds of shocks,” Elwood said in a press release titled ‘Shell-Shocked Crabs Can Feel Pain’, “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.”

Shocking crabs may seen somewhat cruel, even to anglers who commonly use them as bait, but Elwood says that doing so has proven that crustaceans – while not experiencing outright pain – do, in fact, experience a short-term reflex phenomenon known as nociception.

He went on to say that his research warrants investigation into how crustaceans are treated. “Billions of crustaceans are caught or reared in aquaculture for the food industry,” he said. “More consideration of the treatment of these animals is needed as a potentially very large problem is being ignored.”

Elwood did not specifically reference the recreational fishing or diving industries in the release, but it can only be assumed these would be deemed problematic, as well.

We're curious to know what you think of this latest study -- chime in in the Comments section below.