Humans have long considered fish to be unintelligent creatures with little awareness and incapable of feeling pain. In most countries ‘fishing’ is considered to be a ‘good sport’ for adults as well as children. Being a commercial fisherman is thought to be a noble profession, despite that fact that commercial fishing is destroying the oceans.
What if fish were in reality intelligent creatures that not only felt pain but also had a sense of self and felt emotions? Would we still be so eager to kill and eat fish if we knew that they were not so different than us?
If a fisherman could be a fish for a day it is likely that his attitudes would change very quickly.
Science is finally starting to catch up to reality and is recognizing that fish are intelligent and sensitive creatures. Numerous studies at Universities have shown that despite their small brains fish do feel pain, are actually quite smart and do have emotional and social awareness.
Dr. Theresa Burt de Perera studied blind Mexican cave fish and found that the fish did more than merely avoid bumping into objects in their tank. They built a detailed map of their surroundings, memorizing the obstacles. Once stored in their brains, the fish used their “mental map” to spot changes in the obstacles around them – something beyond even hamsters.
Dr. Burt de Perera says that fish are underestimated. “The public perception of them is that they are pea-brained numbskulls that can’t remember things for more than a few seconds. We’re now finding that they are very capable of learning and remembering, and possess a range of cognitive skills that would surprise many people,” she remarked in a recent interview.
Dr. Culum Brown at the University of Edinburgh found that Australian crimson spotted rainbowfish, which learned to escape from a net in their tank, remembered how they did it 11 months later which is equivalent to a human recalling a lesson learned 40 years ago.
Dr. Phil Gee at the University of Plymouth showed that fish can learn to distinguish between different shapes, colours and sounds. In his research goldfish were placed in a bowl in which they were fed only when they pressed a lever. The fish rapidly learned that pressing the lever produced a food reward. Once the fish were trained to press the lever, researchers set up the lever to work for just one hour a day. The fish soon became wise to this, and learned to press the lever at the same time every day. The activity of the fish around the lever increased enormously just before the set hour when their food was dispensed. If no food came out, they stopped pressing the lever when the hour was up, demonstrating that they not only had an awareness of time but also remembered their prior experience and knew that there was no point to keep pressing the lever.
Aquarists knew all of this long ago because they observe their fish and care for them on a daily basis. Most serious aquarists develop bonds with their fish and quickly realize that fish are sensitive and intelligent creatures.
There are over 27,000 known species of fish, more than all the other vertebrates combined. Fish are also the most ancient of the major vertebrate groups. This new research shows that the learning abilities of fish are comparable to land vertebrates and the processes of learning are strikingly similar to those of other vertebrates.
Humans are not always the most clever species. In an experiment conducted at the University of Cologne in 1984, various hungry animals were required to perform a simple response in order to receive food. Mammals pressed a lever, birds pecked a disc and fish pushed a rod. Human infants took 28 attempts, whereas rabbits only took 24, chickens took 10, koi carp took 4 and bees took only 2 attempts before learning the connection.
Fish, like many of Earth’s creatures, are endangered from human activity. Species are becoming extinct before we even discover them and vast tracts of the Ocean are becoming dead zones.
If a being is intelligent and feels pain is it wrong to torture it for sport as in fishing? Is it wrong to kill it and eat it if one’s own survival isn’t dependent upon it?
Do humans have the right to destroy other species and the planet?
The human consumption of fish is the cause of the destruction of the oceans.
There is no nutritional requirement in the human diet for sea-creatures. There is no requirement for humans to eat any animal. We can be perfectly healthy on a diet of fruits, nuts and vegetables.
If you would like to demonstrate your intelligence, simply stop eating fish and other sentient beings. The single most important thing you can do for yourself and the planet is to use your big brain and adopt the diet your body was intended for.
For more information visit http://www.animalsentience.com Timo Nadudvari