New Scientific Study: Crabs, Lobsters, and Other Aquatic Animals Feel Pain

Img47.jpgA new study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology reveals that the European shore crab, a species very close to the crabs commonly eaten by people, experiences pain. Queen’s University professor Bob Elwood, who conducted the study, notes that the crabs’ response to adverse stimuli “fits all the criteria of pain.”

Previous work by the same researchers also found that hermit crabs and prawns exhibit similar pain avoidance behaviors indicative of sentient, feeling beings. They now believe that all decapod crustaceans, a group that includes lobsters and crayfish, feel pain. This prompted Professor Elwood to raise the very serious issue of the utter absence of laws to protect the welfare of these animals.

Indeed, the entire aquaculture industry (think factory farms for aquatic animals) is largely overlooked by animal welfare advocates, even though ample scientific evidence clearly shows that fish and other aquatic animals suffer similarly to mammals.

In 2010, Mercy For Animals conducted the first undercover investigation inside a fish slaughter facility–Catfish Corner in Texas. Workers were caught on hidden camera using pliers to pull the skin off of live fish and cutting fully conscious fish in half. Unfortunately, because aquatic animals aren’t afforded the same legal protections as dogs, cats, and other land animals, law enforcement failed to prosecute this case, even though skinning animals alive is illegal in Texas.

While it is obvious that we need to strengthen laws to protect all animals, including aquatic animals, we don’t have to wait another minute to help stop the needless suffering of these sensitive creatures. Transitioning to a plant-based diet is the best way to ensure that fish, crabs, and other animals are spared unnecessary cruelty and suffering. For more information on delicious vegan recipes, including mock tuna salad, visit