Fruit flies are known to have nociceptors, and it is likely that other insects do, too. Certainly some awareness of harmful stimuli is important for an animal to survive and thrive. Without getting too far into the woods (or reefs) of animal treatment ethics, the question remains: How much pain and distress can these relatively short-lived invertebrates experience? By Katherine Harmon Courage on September 18, 2013. The fact is that many octopi have their tentacles cut off while they're still alive, that is torture, and I am not okay with torture. In your research, particularly with octopus, what was the most surprising evidence of anecdote you found about their intelligence or sense of sentience? Crustaceans, cephalopods, and mollusks don't have any internal temperature regulation, so if you freeze them you can get them to the point where they're really not conscious. Cephalopod expert Jennifer Mather, PhD explains that an octopus likely suffers tremendously while being cut up. The organisation claims that octopuses, which are considered to be among the most intelligent invertebrates, can feel pain in the way that mammals do. But, do octopuses experience would-be painful experiences the same way mice do? Discover world-changing science. And the issue is not just philo-scientific cloud (or wave) gazing. Not only can they remember where home is, but they can go out and hunt, come back, and then go out the next day and hunt in a different place. So it’s a barbaric thing to do to the animal.”—Cephalopod expert Dr. Jennifer Mather The only command issued by the octopus's brain is "FOOD NOW" -- the tentacle already knows what it needs to do in order to fulfill that goal without any further input from mission control. And they are capable of learning, discrimination, spatial awareness and impressive memories. This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in December 2014. What's going on physically when their arms continue to move after they've been cut off? But research has not yet confirmed their presence. In some countries fish and Octopus are eaten whilst still alive. Explore Topics. But whether “pain”–especially originating from an arm–is processed in the central brain remains to be determined. As the authors point out, experiments showing that cephalopods can learn via electric shocks as a negative stimulus are suggestive that the octopus has felt–and remembered the sensation. (For the record, animals in the studies were anesthetized and euthanized, respectively.) The reaction is an automatic response to the sodium chloride, or salt, in the soy sauce. This “creates an ethical dilemma given that the ultimate aim would be to reduce suffering for cephalopods.”. “[T]he octopus, which you’ve been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it. Health. They have a nervous system which is much more distributed than ours…. They're wonderful animals. They probably feel all the pain. QuestionableMouse Sat 23-May-20 14:36:59. We asked a cephalopod expert how it feels for an octopus who is on the receiving end. [Video], how octopus arms can grow back after inflicted damage, how even severed octopus arms can react to stimuli, the special “Cephalopod Research” issue of September’s, Farewell from Octopus Chronicles—And an Ode To a Tool-Wielding Octopus [Video], Octopus Genome Remains Elusive—But Full of Promise. For example, researchers have observed an octopus’s color changing and activity patterns and looked for any self-inflicted harm (swimming into the side of a tank or eating its own arms) to judge whether the animal is “stressed.” And to tell whether an animal has “gone under” anesthesia, they often look for movements, lack of response, posture change or, at the most, measure heart rate and breathing. If they feel pain, she says, what about fruit flies? Octopussies tend to be a lot less vocal about it though. The past couple posts have described some pretty severe experiments on octopuses, including: showing how octopus arms can grow back after inflicted damage and how even severed octopus arms can react to stimuli. But the octopus, which you've been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it. But there was a discussion I had with PETA about someone who was frying octopuses alive in New York, and I was asked to comment on that. Do Octopuses Feel Pain? No more than kittens do. She commented on the practice of cooking and eating octopuses alive. If you haven’t gotten eaten out yet and you’re wondering what it actually feels like when someone goes down on your pussy, here are real people who share their experience. Eating octopus when it's still alive can be a choking hazard — people have actually died this way before. "I understand your emotional response but it's unconfirmed by fact." The recently deceased squid may lack a brain, but its muscle cells, which receive electrical commands, are still intact , NPR reports. 11. If you look at us, most of our neurons are in our brain, and for the octopus, three-fifths of its neurons are in its arms… the octopus, which you’ve been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it. Octopuses’ central brains are organized in an unusually sophisticated way for an invertebrate, possessing distinct lobes. And as the authors of this review remind us, “care must be taken in drawing conclusions between cephalopod and vertebrate brains, as the last common ancestor of vertebrates and cephalopods existed over 500 million years ago.”. If you look at us, most of our neurons are in our brain, and for the octopus, three-fifths of its neurons are in its arms. You can give an animal a quick and minimally painful death before you eat it—at the least, you can destroy the brain. Jennifer Mather, PhD: It's not something I've come across in my research. So how does the squid "come back to life?" The findings are described in the special “Cephalopod Research” issue of September’s Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. The only command issued by the octopus's brain is "FOOD NOW" -- the tentacle already knows what it needs to do in order to fulfill that goal without any further input from mission control. Sign this petition to demand officials protect these animals and stop restaurants from preparing and serving live animals. The practice of eating live seafood, such as fish, crab, oysters, baby shrimp, or baby octopus, is widespread.Oysters are typically eaten live. She says, “There is absolutely no doubt that they feel pain. To do this, octopus use a protein called protein acetylcholinesterase, or AChE. They use tools, and they'll think about what they want to do with something even before they do it. It’s just as painful as if it were a hog, a fish, or a rabbit, if you chopped a rabbit’s leg off piece by piece. The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea. The designations of welfare, cruelty, and simple squeamishness are not always clear-cut—especially in issues surrounding the types of animals that we don't hold particularly near and dear. Octopuses are eaten alive in several countries around the world, including the USA. Humans have this protein, too, but our store of the molecule is much less active than an octopus’. What about other types of sea creatures—the live langoustine, for example, that caused waves for Copenhagen's Noma? San-nakji (산낙지) is a variety of hoe (raw dish) made with long arm octopus (Octopus minor), a small octopus species called nakji in Korean and is sometimes translated into "baby octopus" due to its relatively small size compared to the giant octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini). It selects instincts to fight for life till the very end. [T]he octopus, which you’ve been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it. She added, “Octopus expert Dr. Jennifer Mather has stated that ‘There is absolutely no doubt that they feel pain,’ and explained that an octopus who is being eaten alive is in just as much pain as a pig, fish, or rabbit would be.” JUNG YEON-JE via Getty Images. Restaurants in New York give customers the chance to “ pick belly sashimi out of (the lobster’s) still moving body.” In China, drunken shrimp, or qiang xia, is a delicacy that involves clawed river shrimp soaked in baijiu or another spirit. She has studied octopuses and their close relatives since 1978, and has done extensive field research into the cephalopod mind. It's just as … However, the catch-22 for this type of work is that pursuing it “may involve procedures with the potential to cause pain, suffering and distress,” the researchers write. And one of the things they looked at in terms of rules was, OK, we have to give consideration to vertebrates, but are there any invertebrates that we should give ethical consideration to? What I would do is put it in the freezer. There's an interesting situation because the European Union, over the last few years, looked at all of their animal welfare rules. Animals probably don’t feel pain initially. I could never drop an animal into boiling water either! In Seoul, South Korea, there are entire restaurants centered around dining on octopuses whose arms continue to squirm when they're placed on your plate—and as they wriggle down your throat. MUNCHIES: Have you come across the practice of eating live octopus over the course of your research on cephalopods? Like an octopus, it lacks a shell and has eight arms—the first creature to do so. Do octopuses possess enough of these features to feel anguish as we do? But in some corners of the world, there is less taboo assigned to eating the still-breathing. edit: Interesting the thumbs down. A 2010 article in The Guardian ignited heavy opinions for opening discussion about Copenhagen restaurant noma's dish of still-writhing langoustine; since, the issue has popped up here and there in editorials and YouTube videos. Octopus are being held down, cut up alive, and then served in sushi restaurants. (This is a fascinating question for many animals–especially those we occasionally eat; David Foster Wallace’s famous essay “Consider the Lobster” explores the issue for crustaceans.). If they do have these key receptors, do they have the mental complexity to compute a deeper sense of displeasure? Add message | Report. I think it was the Hawaiians who used to bite down on the brain to kill it quickly. Second, there is the experience of pain (which, in our case, is mediated by the cerebrum). The evidence for sentience in squids, octopuses, and crustaceans is increasingly clear. In the written material that PETA has issued to accompany the video, octopus expert Jennifer Mather makes it clear, as well, that octopuses feel … Bodies. If you've got pieces of arm, because there's so much local control, they might react to the painful stimuli that they get, but they're probably not exactly "feeling pain," because they're disconnected from the brain. Sex Toys. It’s just as painful as if it were a hog, a fish, or a rabbit, if you chopped a rabbit’s leg off piece by piece. And, at least during hunting, an octopus that is pinched by a crab will not withdrawal but will, rather, proceed with its attack, the researchers note. Sometimes, they’re even eaten alive! And, people do experience fear so great that it can cause them do die from the fear. You just stick it in the freezer. The word "Insider". It's probable that the octopus's reaction to pain is similar to a vertebrate. Animal welfare groups have objected to this practice on the basis that octopuses can experience pain. We don’t need to consume oysters, scallops, and clams to survive. But they really don't have the central nervous system to be, so to speak, making decisions and suffering. First, there is the detection of physical pain (via receptors known as nociceptors). They're fascinating. Of all people, Julia Child had instructions for cutting the brain of a lobster to kill it before you boil it. Sex & Pleasure. I've talked to other people about this—there is cultural sensitivity, and there is suffering. dining on octopuses whose arms continue to squirm. The octopus has a nervous system which is much more distributed than ours. Luckily for us, a new paper deals with that very question. How An Octopus Feels When It's Eaten Alive. But “responses might not be mediated by nociceptors (or could involve a variety of receptors) and hence might be a different kind of aversive sensation, when compared with pain experienced in humans,” the authors note. They can anticipate a painful, difficult, stressful situation—they can remember it. The controversial practice of eating live animals is still popular in many parts of the world. Holiday Sale: Save 25%. Their arms contain their own, individual small “brains,” and arms seem to communicate with each other via a lower nerve connection that does not pester the brain with mundane movement and coordination tasks. There's a wonderful video from some guys in Australia—there are several that have done this actually—they need someplace to hide while they rest. Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. There Are Plenty of Octopuses In the Sea—Or Are There? One of them dug up a coconut shell and hauled it around with it, and when it got to the point where it wanted to rest, it picked up the shell, tucked itself inside of it, and went to sleep. Dating & Relationships. Starting this year the European Union asks researchers to make similarly humane accommodations for cephalopods as they do for vertebrates (Directive 2010/63/EU, pdf). Horrible videos show large fish still moving as people eat their severed flesh; An octopus, eels and grubs are also seen being eaten alive or shoved into bowls ... say feel pain … So it’s a barbaric thing to do to the animal.”—Cephalopod expert Dr. Jennifer Mather They also have spatial memory. There is absolutely no doubt that they feel pain. But the octopus, which you've been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it. I suspect that they're just throwing an octopus on a chopping block and cutting off pieces as they go, and they are absolutely causing that animal suffering. In our own experience, three major elements are involved in feeling pain. You don't have to figure out exactly where the brain is, and you don't have to worry about an anaesthetic tainting the flavor of the meat. Humans have this protein, too, but our store of the molecule is much less active than an octopus’. It's just as painful as if it were a hog, a fish, or a rabbit, if you chopped a rabbit's leg off piece by piece. Cuttlefish apparently remember “distasteful” prey, suggesting the use of the central brain in relation to an unpleasant stimulus. To do this, octopus use a protein called protein acetylcholinesterase, or AChE. And while the footage did spread across the Internet like a pirated version of Game of Thrones, it's probably safe to say that it's not the attention Seaside Girl Little Seven wanted. 6 hours ago — Thomas Frank and E&E News, 12 hours ago — Lee Billings and Casey Dreier, 13 hours ago — Ronjini Joshua | Opinion, December 1, 2020 — Daniel Cusick and E&E News, December 1, 2020 — Ewen Callaway and Nature magazine. Sexual Expression. A live-streaming host known as Seaside Girl Little Seven regularly posts clips of herself enjoying seafood, but this time, in hopes of gaining more popularity, she tried something else. And finally, there is the crucial step our bodies take in communicating the information from sensation to perception. Her books include Cultured: How Ancient Foods Can Feed Our Microbiome and Octopus! In the U.S., Europe and around the world, it is common practice to eat oysters and lobsters alive. That would be the quickest, easiest way to render an animal that might be conscious not conscious. It isn't clear that octopuses experience the type of empathy (or possibly any empathy) that would result in such a fear or sadness response. Of eating an octopus alive, Dr. Jennifer Mather, an expert on cephalopods and a psychology professor at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, says, “[T]he octopus, which you’ve been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it. And “there are strong ethical, legal and scientific obligations to avoid, recognize and alleviate any pain, suffering and distress caused to animals used in scientific procedures,” the researchers note. The past couple posts have described some pretty severe experiments on octopuses, including: showing how octopus arms … Hippies even have a hard time saying no, as oysters are almost always sustainably harvested and lack the ability to feel pain. The organisation claims that octopuses, which are considered to be among the most intelligent invertebrates, can feel pain in the way that mammals do. Octopuses are wired unlike most other familiar animals. I know this from person experience and from what I've heard from others. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American. I have also seen octopuses unscrewing jar lids easily to get a small crab inside. Octopuses likely have nociceptors, as demonstrated from their withdrawal from noxious stimuli (even in severed arms) and suggested by the fact that there is good evidence that even “lower” mollusks possess them. If they stuck a shrimp on a block of ice until it's unreactive, it's probably less aware than it would be if you picked it out of the water and started chewing it from the tail up. They have a similar-size nervous system. Do octopus feel pain when eaten alive? Octopuses can feel pain, just like all animals. I eat meat but only a small amount and I get it from a butcher so its high welfare. But that doesn't mean that crustaceans can't experience the same pain stimuli, anticipation, and memory of painful events that an octopus does. My thought is that if you had a whole octopus and tried to eat it, it would be a completely repellant situation because the octopus would try to climb out. “[T]he octopus, which you’ve been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it. It's just as … What do you think an octopus is experiencing when it's being cut into pieces and eaten alive? How An Octopus Feels When It's Eaten Alive. There's everything to learn about them. If they killed the octopus first then I wouldn't care, but the kept it alive just to inflict pain by cutting off it's legs. But we do not yet have evidence that they can process suffering as we do. Why is it that we almost universally condemn leaving a dog out in the rain or kicking a cat, but haven't yet decided whether slowly dismembering a sea creature is truly disagreeable? I find it difficult to have any sympathy for people who choke on a live animal that they're eating piece by piece. Octopus can feel pain and are aware of each hack into their sensitive tentacles. Octopussies tend to be a lot less vocal about it though. Katherine Harmon Courage is a Scientific American contributor, independent journalist and author. Do Octopuses Feel Pain? It was found in the Pennsylvanian Francis Creek Shale of Illinois' Carbondale Formation. 3. Much more research is needed. Sannakji (Korea) Not an uncommon or unreasonable reaction when your food puts up a fight. “Higher cognitive abilities are considered important for the presence of sentience and the capacity to experience pain, suffering and distress,” the researchers write. The octopus has a nervous system which is much more distributed than ours. The past couple posts have described some pretty severe experiments on octopuses, including: showing how octopus arms can grow back after inflicted damage and how even severed octopus arms can react to stimuli. Scientific American is part of Springer Nature, which owns or has commercial relations with thousands of scientific publications (many of them can be found at, How Does That Crazy Camouflage Octopus Disappear? In the written material that PETA has issued to accompany the video, octopus expert Jennifer Mather makes it clear, as well, that octopuses feel pain. Eating octopus when it's still alive can be a choking hazard — people have actually died this way before. So it's a barbaric thing to do to the animal. Subscribers get more award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. Serves her right,” one person wrote. Culture. We don’t yet know whether oysters feel pain, but if they do, they represent a very large number of suffering animals—a single meal might require the deaths of 12 or more oysters. But goodness knows, I have eaten raw oysters and raw clams. Researchers from Europe, the UK and Japan teamed up to explore what we know about pain, perception and cognition in octopuses. Both of these could explain why an octopus arm might recoil at an unpleasant sensation without the animal having a “conscious” experience of it. Explore our digital archive back to 1845, including articles by more than 150 Nobel Prize winners. Hippies even have a hard time saying no, as oysters are almost always sustainably harvested and lack the ability to … There is absolutely no doubt that they feel pain. But the octopus, which you've been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it. But these are still relatively rough measures of a complex process. These are intelligent animals with minds of their own, and I doubt they would enjoy being eaten. Understanding that if there's a crab under a rock and you got it, there might not be another crab for that rock for a while. Rather than trying to reckon with apples and oranges (or spaniels and squids), I consulted cephalopod expert Jennifer Mather, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta and author of numerous studies on octopus and cephalopod sentience, including "Cephalopod consciousness: Behavioral evidence" and "Ethics and invertebrates: a cephalopod perspective." After quite some deliberation, they decided that in terms of research, you should give consideration to cephalopods, including octopus and squid, but they did not include crustaceans. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. Finally, research showing efficient transmission of incoming, would-be painful stimuli from the skin to the lobes of the central brain actually seems to be the most lacking. Are there any ways, short of medical sedation, that one could reduce the amount of suffering while still eating an animal alive? When it comes to getting drunk and eating animals alive, the Koreans (both flavors, North and South) are among the top contenders. Live octopus … Previous (as well as much current) research has looked largely to behavioral clues as an indication to an octopus’s internal state. © 2020 Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc. Support our award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. ... researchers have observed an octopus’s color changing and activity patterns and looked for any self-inflicted harm (swimming into the side of a tank or eating … As the researchers note in their paper, we know very little about whether cephalopods recognize pain or experience suffering and distress in a similar way that we humans–or even we vertebrates–do. No more than kittens do. ... Well, they do feel pain, but not in a conscious way. “If I was an octopus trying to be eaten alive I would have done the same. I hoped that she could offer greater insight into pain and sentience in octopus terms. What would be the best way to kill an octopus quickly and with minimal pain to the animal? How can we account for differences in the perception of what constitutes cruelty between cultures? Short of cannibalism, the most controversial issues in meat-eating today are likely the consumption of dog meat—due to our social and sentimental attachments to the canine species—and the practice of eating live animals. Explore. By signing up to the VICE newsletter you agree to receive electronic communications from VICE that may sometimes include advertisements or sponsored content. Live octopus is served at about a … Do Octopuses Feel Pain? “The octopus has a nervous system which is much more distributed than ours. image courtesy of Flickr/RobertFrancis The past couple posts have described some pretty severe experiments on octopuses , including: showing how octopus arms can grow back after inflicted damage and how even severed octopus arms can react to stimuli . Of course they do, just as much as you would if you were eaten alive! Natural selection does not select against pain. It's not just a sense of direction, it's a sense of where you've been. Cultural live animal traditions. So, in most cases it would be painful, yes, and terrifying, but there can also be some protection from the experience, not always but sometimes. Eating them raw (sometimes called “shooters”) retains the most nutrients. There's no doubt about it. “[T]he octopus, which you’ve been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it.

do octopus feel pain when eaten alive

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