Thursday, March 25, 2010

Post for Ada Lovelace day 2010

Ada Lovelace day is here again and Victoria Braithwaite's new book on fish welfare has just been released, so I thought I'd combine the two.

Do Fish Feel Pain is very readable in spite of its strong scientific content and will not only be valuable for anyone who is interested in the controversial subject of the welfare of fish, but also as an introduction to the dilemmas involved in the ethics of animal welfare science. Many of the experiments which demonstrate that fish probably DO feel pain would probably not be acceptable if they were done on mammals, but without them far worse things would continue to be inflicted in the course of commercial fishing and aquaculture.

The book also contains happier evidence from observations of fish in the wild; some of it quite startling. Did you know that some fish have been seen hunting co-operatively, rather like humans using dogs to flush out prey? (DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.0040431.sv001) The grouper fish in the video clip is "calling" the eel to come out to hunt. (Bshary R, Hohner A, Ait-el-Djoudi K, Fricke H, 2006 Interspecific Communicative and Coordinated Hunting between Groupers and Giant Moray Eels in the Red Sea. PLoS Biol 4(12): e431. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0040431)