Crabs, crustaceans feel pain, study says
Crabs and other crustceans react to painful situations unlike the general belief that they don’t feel pain.Scientists have found further evidence that crustaceans feel pain, the BBC has reported.
A study has recently revealed that the shore crab, a close relative of the species we use for food, responds to electric shocks and then goes on to avoid them. Previous research had shown that prawns and hermit crabs also react to painful situations.
The scientists who conducted the study say the findings suggest the food and aquaculture industry should rethink how it treats these animals.
Professor Bob Elwood, from Queen’s University Belfast, designed an experiment to assess how crustaceans respond to potentially painful situations.
He looked at the European shore crab (Carcinus maenas), a creature that usually takes shelter under dark rocks during the day to avoid being spotted and eaten by seagulls. Ninety crabs were individually placed in a brightly lit arena and had the option of scuttling to two dark shelters.
Once the creatures had taken refuge away from the light, half were given an electric shock in the first shelter they chose.
The shocked crabs were then placed back into the tank again, but to the researchers’ surprise, most of them moved back to the original shelter where they had been stunned. Those that made this decision were then shocked a second time. But now the painful experience had an impact on their future behavior.
“Those crabs shocked in the previous trial were much more likely to switch shelters than those who hadn’t been shocked in the previous trial. Just two experiences produced a significant switch in behavior,” said the professor.