And the issue is not just philo-scientific cloud (or wave) gazing. They probably feel all the pain. Sannakji (Korea) Not an uncommon or unreasonable reaction when your food puts up a fight. 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 . The reaction is an automatic response to the sodium chloride, or salt, in the soy sauce. In some countries fish and Octopus are eaten whilst still alive. How An Octopus Feels When It's Eaten Alive. 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." 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 views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American. First, there is the detection of physical pain (via receptors known as nociceptors). Do octopus feel pain when eaten alive? Live octopus … 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. No more than kittens do. "I understand your emotional response but it's unconfirmed by fact." 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. Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. 3. By signing up to the VICE newsletter you agree to receive electronic communications from VICE that may sometimes include advertisements or sponsored content. The octopus has a nervous system which is much more distributed than ours. Serves her right,” one person wrote. If they feel pain, she says, what about fruit flies? Octopuses are eaten alive in several countries around the world, including the USA. In the U.S., Europe and around the world, it is common practice to eat oysters and lobsters alive. Eating octopus when it's still alive can be a choking hazard — people have actually died this way before. Animals probably don’t feel pain initially. 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? Animal welfare groups have objected to this practice on the basis that octopuses can experience pain. How An Octopus Feels When It's Eaten Alive. Both of these could explain why an octopus arm might recoil at an unpleasant sensation without the animal having a “conscious” experience of it. Sign this petition to demand officials protect these animals and stop restaurants from preparing and serving live animals. 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. 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. I've talked to other people about this—there is cultural sensitivity, and there is suffering. No more than kittens do. Of all people, Julia Child had instructions for cutting the brain of a lobster to kill it before you boil it. Culture. In our own experience, three major elements are involved in feeling pain. dining on octopuses whose arms continue to squirm. The octopus has a nervous system which is much more distributed than ours. Humans have this protein, too, but our store of the molecule is much less active than an octopus’. Discover world-changing science. 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. 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. Sex & Pleasure. But whether “pain”–especially originating from an arm–is processed in the central brain remains to be determined. 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? 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. 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. So it's a barbaric thing to do to the animal. Add message | Report. 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. Explore. Bodies. “The octopus has a nervous system which is much more distributed than ours. 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. Like an octopus, it lacks a shell and has eight arms—the first creature to do so. “[T]he octopus, which you’ve been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it. ... 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 … Do Octopuses Feel Pain? 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.”. To do this, octopus use a protein called protein acetylcholinesterase, or AChE. But these are still relatively rough measures of a complex process. They're fascinating. Octopussies tend to be a lot less vocal about it though. Health. Researchers from Europe, the UK and Japan teamed up to explore what we know about pain, perception and cognition in octopuses. 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. Octopus are being held down, cut up alive, and then served in sushi restaurants. 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. It's probable that the octopus's reaction to pain is similar to a vertebrate. I could never drop an animal into boiling water either! There is absolutely no doubt that they feel pain. Octopussies tend to be a lot less vocal about it though. Sexual Expression. 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). 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. So it’s a barbaric thing to do to the animal.”—Cephalopod expert Dr. Jennifer Mather 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. The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea. I have also seen octopuses unscrewing jar lids easily to get a small crab inside. Eating them raw (sometimes called “shooters”) retains the most nutrients. edit: Interesting the thumbs down. Sex Toys. Jennifer Mather, PhD: It's not something I've come across in my research. But, do octopuses experience would-be painful experiences the same way mice do? 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. MUNCHIES: Have you come across the practice of eating live octopus over the course of your research on cephalopods? I think it was the Hawaiians who used to bite down on the brain to kill it quickly. It's just as … To do this, octopus use a protein called protein acetylcholinesterase, or AChE. 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. Cultural live animal traditions. What do you think an octopus is experiencing when it's being cut into pieces and eaten alive? And, people do experience fear so great that it can cause them do die from the fear. What would be the best way to kill an octopus quickly and with minimal pain to the animal? 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. Of course they do, just as much as you would if you were eaten alive! There's an interesting situation because the European Union, over the last few years, looked at all of their animal welfare rules. 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. 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). 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. Hippies even have a hard time saying no, as oysters are almost always sustainably harvested and lack the ability to … Natural selection does not select against pain. It's not just a sense of direction, it's a sense of where you've been. Certainly some awareness of harmful stimuli is important for an animal to survive and thrive. The practice of eating live seafood, such as fish, crab, oysters, baby shrimp, or baby octopus, is widespread.Oysters are typically eaten live. 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. 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? There is absolutely no doubt that they feel pain. 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. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. 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. So how does the squid "come back to life?" They have a nervous system which is much more distributed than ours…. Sometimes, they’re even eaten alive! Live octopus is served at about a … © 2020 Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc. Support our award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. 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. Are there any ways, short of medical sedation, that one could reduce the amount of suffering while still eating an animal alive? 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. Humans have this protein, too, but our store of the molecule is much less active than an octopus’. It's just as … Subscribers get more award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. [T]he octopus, which you’ve been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it. Holiday Sale: Save 25%. What about other types of sea creatures—the live langoustine, for example, that caused waves for Copenhagen's Noma? 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. 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. Luckily for us, a new paper deals with that very question. 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. Cuttlefish apparently remember “distasteful” prey, suggesting the use of the central brain in relation to an unpleasant stimulus. 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 … (For the record, animals in the studies were anesthetized and euthanized, respectively.) The past couple posts have described some pretty severe experiments on octopuses, including: showing how octopus arms … “If I was an octopus trying to be eaten alive I would have done the same. There's everything to learn about them. We asked a cephalopod expert how it feels for an octopus who is on the receiving end. Do Octopuses Feel Pain? They use tools, and they'll think about what they want to do with something even before they do it. 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. It was found in the Pennsylvanian Francis Creek Shale of Illinois' Carbondale Formation. It selects instincts to fight for life till the very end. , that one could reduce the amount of suffering while still eating an animal that might be conscious not.! “ pain ” –especially originating from an arm–is processed in the freezer Feed. 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