Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Shell-shocked' crabs can feel pain

Date:
January 16, 2013
Source:
Queen's University Belfast
Summary:
The food and aquaculture industries should reconsider how they treat live crustaceans such as crabs, prawns and lobsters. That's according to a researcher who has found that crabs are likely to feel pain.

The food and aquaculture industries should reconsider how they treat live crustaceans such as crabs, prawns and lobsters. That's according to a Queen's University Belfast researcher who has found that crabs are likely to feel pain.

Related Articles


The latest study by Professor Bob Elwood and Barry Magee from Queen's School of Biological Sciences looked at the reactions of common shore crabs to small electrical shocks, and their behaviour after experiencing those shocks. The research has been published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Professor Elwood's previous research showed that prawns and hermit crabs respond in a way consistent with pain. This latest study provides further evidence of this. Professor Elwood said: "The experiment was carefully designed to distinguish between pain and a reflex phenomenon known as nociception. The function of pain is to aid future avoidance of the pain source, whereas nociception enables a reflex response that provides immediate protection but no awareness or changes to long-term behaviour.

"While nociception is generally accepted to exist in virtually all animals the same is not true of pain. In particular, whether or not crustaceans experience pain remains widely debated."

This latest study showed that shore crabs are willing to trade something of value to them -- in this case a dark shelter -- to avoid future electric shock. Explaining how the experiment worked, Professor Elwood said: "Crabs value dark hideaways beneath rocks where they can shelter from predators. Exploiting this preference, our study tested whether the crabs experienced pain by seeing if they could learn to give up a valued dark hiding place in order to avoid a mild electric shock.

"Ninety crabs were each introduced individually to a tank with two dark shelters. On selecting their shelter of choice, some of the crabs were exposed to an electric shock. After some rest time, each crab was returned to the tank. Most stuck with what they knew best, returning to the shelter they had chosen first time around, where those that had been shocked on first choice again experienced a shock. When introduced to the tank for the third time, however, the vast majority of shocked crabs now went to the alternative safe shelter. Those not shocked continued to use their preferred shelter.

"Having experienced two rounds of shocks, 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."

Professor Elwood says that his research highlights the need to investigate how crustaceans used in food industries, such as crabs, prawns and lobsters, are treated. He said: "Billions of crustacean are caught or reared in aquaculture for the food industry. In contrast to mammals, crustaceans are given little or no protection as the presumption is that they cannot experience pain. Our research suggests otherwise. More consideration of the treatment of these animals is needed as a potentially very large problem is being ignored.

"On a philosophical point it is impossible to demonstrate absolutely that an animal experiences pain. However, various criteria have been suggested regarding what we would expect if pain were to be experienced. The research at Queen's has tested those criteria and the data is consistent with the idea of pain. Thus, we conclude that there is a strong probability of pain and the need to consider the welfare of these animals."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University Belfast. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. B. Magee, R. W. Elwood. Shock avoidance by discrimination learning in the shore crab (Carcinus maenas) is consistent with a key criterion for pain. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2013; 216 (3): 353 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.072041

Cite This Page:

Queen's University Belfast. "'Shell-shocked' crabs can feel pain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130116195336.htm>.
Queen's University Belfast. (2013, January 16). 'Shell-shocked' crabs can feel pain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130116195336.htm
Queen's University Belfast. "'Shell-shocked' crabs can feel pain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130116195336.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins