- A scientist claims that fish have the same intelligence as other vertebrates
- Fish have good memories, build complicated structures and show behaviour seen in primates - as well as feeling pain like us, he said
- Expert claims fish welfare and fishing techniques should be reconsidered
- It is the latest claims in a debate surrounding how fish respond to stimulus
Fishing may not seem like such a relaxing sport anymore, as scientists claim to have found that fish feel pain, just like humans. One researcher believes fish have the same intelligence as other animals and consequently, people should care more for their welfare. Flying in the face of what is considered popular opinion, he added fish have good memories and exhibit behaviour seen in primates, such as building complicated structures like specially-shaped sandcastles, as well as using tools.
Associate Professor Culum Brown of Macquarie University in Australia, said fish have very good memories, live in complex social communities where they keep track of individuals and can learn from one another. They develop cultural traditions and can even recognise themselves and others. They also show signs of Machiavellian intelligence, such as cooperation and reconciliation, according to the study, which focuses on bony fish and is published in Springer’s journal Animal Cognition.
Professor Brown said the primary senses of the fish are ‘just as good’ and in some cases better than that of humans. The level of mental complexity that fish display is on a par with most other vertebrates, while there is mounting evidence that they can feel pain in a manner similar to humans.
While the brains of fish differ from other vertebrates, fish have many comparable structures that perform similar functions. Professor Brown believes that if some comparable animals are sentient, fish must be considered to be so, too, and therefore their welfare needs should be reconsidered.
‘Although scientists cannot provide a definitive answer on the level of consciousness for any non-human vertebrate, the extensive evidence of fish behavioural and cognitive sophistication and pain perception suggests that best practice would be to lend fish the same level of protection as any other vertebrate,’ he said.
‘We should therefore include fish in our ‘moral circle’ and afford them the protection they deserve.’
While the implications of the research could have a big impact on the fishing industry, fish are also used in a similar way to mice in scientific research, so lab conditions would have to be reviewed too. Professor Brown thinks there is little public concern about the creatures’ wellbeing as many people only think of the animals as pets or food, and do not give them credit for being conscious and intelligent.
A recent study has found that crayfish feel stress in the same way that humans do and can be similarly calmed down using drugs. This is the first time that clear signs of anxiety - normally associated with more complex forms of life - has been observed in a spineless species.
“We’ve destroyed 90% of the fishes. Coral reefs in the entire planet will be gone in 20 years. That’s an irreversible situation. That’s the first major collapse of an ecosystem on the planet. People are really ecologically stupid. We don’t realize that if we just wipe out a couple of species here, we’re gone.”
— Paul Watson
Pet your turtles, they enjoy snugglies more than painI feel like this is especially appropriate for cars and turtles in the road.
And don’t drill holes in them or paint em. Its painful and toxic and you’ll make the poor things cry!
Our turtles love having their heads and chins scratched. And a light pat on their shells. No hits, or thumps. They love good pets, please pet them with love.
Shells are LITERALLY their backbone, imagine if someone thumped you hard on the spine. It would suck right? Don’t do it.
Also their shells are covered in a VERY thin layer of fingernail-like material called scutes. When you paint it, a) it’s very easy for the toxins in the paint to absorb into the turtle’s system and poison them, b) it cuts off circulation to the thin layer of living skin below the scutes, c) it deforms the shell because turtles, especially young turtles, grow rapidly and the paint will inhibit proper shell growth and d) prevents the turtle from absorbing necessary vitamin D from UV rays (you know, that stuff they need to live). NEVER EVER PAINT A TURTLE EVER.
people paint turtles? what the fuck.
^^^ I had no idea painting turtles was an issue that needed to be covered… But I am glad it was! Turtles are super rad!
If bees become extinct we will have exactly 4 YEARS to live on this planet. I don’t understand how “not giving a fuck” is more important than your life…
okay, I have a thing to say about this. I’m no expert on bees, but I am a biologist (and entomologist) so I think there is something I can contribute that’ll be of worth.
I agree entirely with the sentiment that we must protect honeybees. Obviously they are massively important for biodiversity, as well as pollinating food crops for humans. There is no doubt that if all the honeybees in the world were to vanish in a day that the consequences would be dire.
However, I disagree that the main cause for concern regarding honeybee death is the use of Genetically Modified (GM) crops. I’d be very interested to read a research paper that says ‘GM crops have killed millions of honeybees’, if indeed such a paper exists because in all honesty I find it highly unlikely that this is a true statement.
Let’s start with some facts about GM crops:
1. The development of GM crops is a highly regulated process, bound by strict country-specific legislature. A great number of trials are carried out long before commercial planting of a GM crop is even considered. It is these trials, and accompanying laboratory studies, that ensure a GM crop is safe to non-target organisms (such as honeybees) by investigating direct and indirect effects (Nap et al. 2003).
2. Crops that are genetically modified to express insecticidal proteins (for crop pest control) have a high level of specificity. This means that the insecticidal proteins being produced by the GM plant will only affect a narrow range of insect groups because of the chemical properties of the protein. For example, GM crops expressing insecticidal proteins sourced from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) will only target some Lepidopteran pests (caterpillars; Romeis et al. 2006). Furthermore, a recent meta-analysis of the literature found that GM Bt crops do not negatively affect the survival of adult honeybees or their larvae (Duan et al. 2008).
3. GM crops can be tailored such that the novel gene is expressed only in particular parts of the plant. For example, GM Bt rice plants express the toxin in the stems but not the grains (Datta et al. 1998). This technique means that gene expression can be excluded from the flowers/pollen of the crop plant, so that bees and other pollinators would not be affected. Neat, huh?
So those are a token few reasons why GM crops are safer than perhaps many people believe (as the result of a lot of questionable, non-scientific articles). To come back to our main point about honeybee death, I would like to briefly mention a few alternative explanations for the recent decline in honeybee populations. These are as follows:
1. Many bees have died as the result of broad-spectrum insecticide use. These are pesticides that lack specificity, and can be harmful to non-target organisms. Neonicotinoids are a well-studied example of this (Decourtye & Devillers, 2010). Not to worry, though, because many broad-spectrum pesticides including neonics are well on their way out. Indeed, the EU recently banned a large cohort of neonic pesticides. This is still a topic of controversy, mind (Goulson, 2013).
2. Many bees have died as the result of Varroa mite infestation. Imagine you’ve been bitten by several ticks, except those ticks are the size of dinner plates. That gives you an idea of the severity of a Varroa mite infestation on a single developing bee. The parasitisation of bees by Varroa mites and other parasites is often accompanied by disease transmission. This can result in colonies dying within two years after infestation (Johnson, 2011).
3. Many bees have died as the result of ‘colony collapse disorder’. This is a phrase that has popped up a lot recently, and is basically an umbrella term for the various causes of bee death including parasite infestation, disease transmission, environmental stresses, and management stresses such as poor nutrition (Johnson, 2011). Colony collapse has been attributed to broad-spectrum pesticide use in some instances. However, it is has still been observed in countries where broad-spectrum pesticides have been withdrawn (in the EU, like I mentioned earlier; Johnson, 2011).
So those are my main points. Please excuse the bullet-point nature of this; I was trying to keep it fairly short. Not sure I managed that haha. But anyway, my take-home message is that GM crops are not the enemy when it comes to honeybee decline. If anything, bees are at much greater danger from the use of broad-spectrum pesticides and from parasites and diseases. Using GM can even help to alleviate some of the problems associated with broad-spectrum pesticides, as they greatly reduce the need to apply such chemicals (Romeis et al. 2006).
A finishing note: Do your homework. Go on google scholar and read some of the literature, making sure it is recent (within the past 10-15 years). Literature reviews are a great way to find out what the consensus is on any given topic. Don’t use popular media as your main source of information where science is concerned; they tend to favour scandal and exaggeration. You want to know what’s really going on? Check out some research articles and see for yourself.
Thanks for sticking it through to the end of this impromptu mini-essay! —Alice
Datta, K., Vasquez, A., Tu, J., Torrizo, L., Alam, M. F., Oliva, N., Abrigo, E., Khush, G. S., & Datta, S. K. (1998). Constitutive and tissue-specific differential expression of the cryIA (b) gene in transgenic rice plants conferring resistance to rice insect pest. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 97(1-2), 20-30.
Decourtye, A., & Devillers, J. (2010). Ecotoxicity of neonicotinoid insecticides to bees. In Insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (pp. 85-95). Springer New York.
Duan, J. J., Marvier, M., Huesing, J., Dively, G., & Huang, Z. Y. (2008). A meta-analysis of effects of Bt crops on honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). PLoS One, 3(1), e1415.
Goulson, D. (2013). Neonicotinoids and bees: What’s all the buzz?. Significance, 10(3), 6-11.
Johnson, R. (2011). Honey bee colony collapse disorder. DIANE Publishing.
Nap, J. P., Metz, P. L., Escaler, M., & Conner, A. J. (2003). The release of genetically modified crops into the environment. The Plant Journal, 33(1), 1-18.
Romeis, J., Meissle, M., & Bigler, F. (2006). Transgenic crops expressing Bacillus thuringiensis toxins and biological control. Nature biotechnology, 24(1), 63-71.
This commentary is SO important. Succinct and with proper sourcing; beautiful.
It infuriates me when people blame GMO for everything without actually examining the evidence.
*AGGRESSIVELY HIGHLIGHTS THIS ENTIRE POST*
What about that assertion is classist? Your implication that vegan = middle class however, is classist. I am militantly working class, and ate very little meat even before I become vegan, because we could not afford it. The most impoverished people in the world eat plant based diets, meat is a luxury, it is only comparatively cheap in the west because we subsidise it to a ridiculous degree.
I am not convinced that you understand what classism is? Veganism is not a class. I am simply stating that you cannot campaign for animals to have rights, while simultaneously believing they do not have the right to be alive, the right for self-determination or the right to decide what is done with their own bodies. 98% of animals who are victims of abuse, are abused by the meat, dairy and egg industries… So are you just advocating for the remaining 2% to be treated well?
I cannot legitimately advocate for women’s rights, while simultaneously engaging in misogynistic and sexist behaviour. I cannot campaign against animal cruelty, while living a lifestyle that promotes, funds and requires animal cruelty. The two positions are wholly incompatible.
There are reports of animals being on anti-depressants because they are unhappy from being away from their natural habitat.
Animals are often killed once they cannot breed. ————> http://blog.peta.org.uk/2014/02/rip-marius-young-giraffe-killed-by-zoo/
Animals are often malnourished and depressed.
Another zoo killing a couple of lions to make way for other lions.
Healthy cub killed here
You should probably look up zoochosis, oh look here’s a link!
I can sit here and post a bunch of links that you most likely will not go through, but it is pretty simple to understand that captivity is cruel. Being forced away from your natural habitat is cruel and if you want to help the animals, it is very simple: HELP THE FUCKING ANIMALS. Donate the money you were going to use to go to the zoo directly to non-profit organizations dedicated to help or save animals. People don’t go to zoos thinking “hell yeah my money is going to help animals out in the long run” instead people go to zoos thinking “hell yeah I’m going to see the fucking king of the jungle roar.”
Apparently some vegans are telling people not to eat honey to support bees. STOP. STOP NOW. DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW BEES WORK? Buy honey (local if possible) -> support beekeepers -> support bees. I swear people don’t even think this stuff out. Beekeepers provide bees with an environment in which they can live, and are encouraged to thrive. Bees then have a big huge giant person who can deal with any threats to the hive. Yes, honey is a winter food supply for bees, but beekeepers (unless they’re dicks, in which case they’d be shooting themselves in the foot) will NEVER take too much honey from a hive, and will always ensure that bees have enough food. Think about it, you’re not going to starve a source of income/hobby, are you? So now. Support beekeepers. Support bees. buzz.
OP, do YOU even know how bees work?
Do you really think commercial beekeepers leave ANY honey for their bees? They don’t. It is all scraped out and sold, because newsflash, their businesses exist to turn a profit. Bees are fed sugar water to sustain them through the winter, which keeps them alive, but certainly not healthy. This makes it much easier for bacteria, fungi, etc. to infect them because their immune systems are not being supported with the nutrition they need.
You are contributing to the further endangerment of bees, as a species, when you buy honey/beeswax/etc. You’re also exploiting their labor, because bees don’t choose to live in bee boxes, beekeepers clip off the wings of their queen so they can’t leave. And because older queens are more likely to initiate a swarm, beekeepers usually kill their queens and replace them every 3-5 years.
Most beekeepers - including the small, local beekeepers you allege we should support - use a smoker whenever they open up the hive. A bee’s strongest sense is olfactory, so when there’s smoke everywhere, they become disoriented, as they can’t sense what’s around them. Smoke also causes the bees to gorge themselves on honey, which makes them lethargic and less likely to attack because they’re bloated and tired.
Even small-scale local beekeepers who claim to only take the hive’s surplus are problematic. How can we judge what is an adequate reserve of food for an entire colony throughout a season? What if it’s an exceptionally rough winter, and they actually need more honey than you anticipated? As more pesticides are introduced to the environment, biodiversity decreases dramatically, making it much harder for bees to find enough plants with pollen they can convert into food for themselves. Would you take food from any other species that’s in danger of dying off entirely? Because that’s what you’re doing when you buy honey - depriving bees of food they made to sustain and nourish themselves.
Many commercial beekeepers will burn their hives in the winter, because it’s cheaper to remove all the honey and wax and start a new colony in the spring than to sustain the existing colony through the (unproductive) winter. Supporting commercial honey literally equates to supporting killing entire bee colonies.
Want to help bees? Stop buying products made with their labor and plant things like sage, lavender, thyme, cilantro, poppies, etc. And stop shitting on vegans who are doing all we can to ACTUALLY help bees in order to justify your own selfish ideology.
Do some research before you make another shitty post full of misinformation that gets upwards of 113,000 notes.