While most people assume fish are not capable of feeling pain, that doesn’t seem exactly true. Fish might not be able to scream or cry like most mammals, but they do feel things.
A somewhat recent review published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B seems to suggest that fish not only feel pain but that they feel pain in a way very similar to how we humans do. Mammals, in general, tend to avoid injury and are affected when getting hurt, fish are the same in this sense. Throughout time, it has been seen that various fish species change their behaviors after experiencing something that would be painful. For instance, a study from 2018 noted that after being caught with a fishing hook marine shiner perch avoid the area they were hooked in for several days.
A release statement covering the findings in the review mentioned above was posted on Psys.org and came from officials at the University of Liverpool. Within that statement, it is noted that the conclusion observed was that fish do feel pain and that the pain they feel is much closer to the pain we feel than most would have ever thought. Fish when facing a painful experience go through changes and some even lose their appetites.
“When subject to a potentially painful event fishes show adverse changes in behavior such as suspension of feeding and reduced activity, which are prevented when a pain-relieving drug is provided.”
“When the fish’s lips are given a painful stimulus they rub the mouth against the side of the tank much like we rub our toe when we stub it.”
“If we accept fish experience pain, then this has important implications for how we treat them. Care should be taken when handling fish to avoid damaging their sensitive skin, and they should be humanely caught and killed.”
I guess these findings, in general, bring a lot of questions to the table. How do you feel about all of this? I for one cannot wait for more research in regards to fish and how they ‘feel’ overall, this is a topic that constantly blows my mind. There is no denying how misunderstood fish are, we have been around them for so long and still don’t know that much about them.
While it was already interesting enough to learn that the cleaner wrasse was able to recognize itself in a mirror we could learn so much more in the future. As time passes perhaps these interesting creatures will become more and more recognized as being the same as we are in more ways than we right now are able to imagine. I guess only time will tell.
For some facts about fish please feel free to check out the video below. They are truly fascinating beings, and we should work to understand them better as noted above. Will you be fishing after reading this? I sure won’t.