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Friday, April 3, 2009

Boiled Alive, and Feelin' It

Boiled Alive, and Feelin' It

posted by: alicia graef

Well, I’ve got some bad news for those of you who enjoy dining on a little crab or lobster, possibly under the presumption that our little crustacean friends don’t feel pain …when being boiled alive.

Scientists are going on the record in the journal of Animal Behaviour with their discovery that lobsters and crabs not only suffer pain, but remember it too.

Whether or not crustaceans feel pain has been debated for a long time, while many like to argue that since their nervous system is different from ours, they’re not capable of feeling pain or stress.

However, this research has shown that when hermit crabs are exposed to painful stimulus, i.e. an electric shock, they experience pain, in addition to learning behaviors to avoid painful situations in the future, like ditching their shells in search of new homes.

Since tearing off legs and boiling lobsters and crabs alive are common practices, scientists are now calling for a reevaluation of their treatment and protection.

Robert Elwood, the head researcher for the study said, "There is no protection for these animals (with the possible exception of certain states in Australia) as the presumption is that they cannot experience pain. With vertebrates we are asked to err on the side of caution and I believe this is the approach to take with these crustaceans."

A second study that will be appearing in the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science also provides evidence that these animals suffer. This study also found that crustaceans react to pain, make decisions to avoid it, and they react positively to pain killers.

For more information about the lives of these mysterious sea creatures, check out Fishing Hurts
Do Lobsters Feel Pain? 

Does Being Boiled Alive Hurt?


Most people feel uncomfortable about cooking and eating lobsters—and for good reason: Like all animals, lobsters can feel pain, and they suffer when they are cut, broiled, or boiled alive.

Lobsters are so alien to humans, it’s hard for us to imagine how they perceive the world. For example, lobsters “smell” chemicals in the water with their antennae, and they “taste” with sensory hairs along their legs. 

But in many ways, lobsters really aren’t so different from us.

• Like humans, lobsters have a long childhood and an awkward adolescence.

• Lobsters carry their young for nine months and can live to be over 100 years old.

• Like dolphins and many other animals, lobsters use complicated signals to explore their surroundings and establish social relationships.

• Lobsters also take long-distance seasonal journeys and can cover 100 miles or more each year (the equivalent of a human walking from Maine to Florida) — assuming that they manage to avoid the millions of traps set along the coasts. Sadly, many lobsters don’t survive their most formidable predator—humans—and more than 20 million are consumed each year in the United States alone.

“As an invertebrate zoologist who has studied crustaceans for a number of years, I can tell you the lobster has a rather sophisticated nervous system that, among other things, allows it to sense actions that will cause it harm. … [Lobsters] can, I am sure, sense pain.”
—Jaren G. Horsley, Ph.D.

Yes, Being boiled alive...hurts!


Contrary to claims made by seafood sellers, there is little doubt anymore that lobsters, like all animals, can feel pain. Most scientists agree that a lobster’s nervous system is quite sophisticated. For example, neurobiologist Tom Abrams says lobsters have “a full array of senses.” Jelle Atema, a marine biologist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and one of the country’s leading experts on lobsters, says, “I personally believe they do feel pain.”

Lobsters may even feel more pain than we would in similar situations. One popular food magazine recently suggested cutting live lobsters in half before tossing them on the grill (a recipe that’s “not for the squeamish,” the magazine warned), and more than one chef has been known to slice and dice lobsters before cooking them. But, says invertebrate zoologist Jaren G. Horsley, “The lobster does not have an autonomic nervous system that puts it into a state of shock when it is harmed. It probably feels itself being cut. ... I think the lobster is in a great deal of pain from being cut open ... [and] feels all the pain until its nervous system is destroyed” during cooking. 

Don’t heat up the water just yet, though. Anyone who has ever boiled a lobster alive can attest to the fact that when dropped into scalding water, lobsters whip their bodies wildly and scrape the sides of the pot in a desperate attempt to escape. In the journal Science, researcher Gordon Gunter described this method of killing lobsters as “unnecessary torture.” 

Many marine biologists have been consulted about the most humane way to kill a lobster. While the experts couldn’t seem to agree on which method is best, they do agree:  there really is no humane way to kill these sensitive and unusual animals.

Let the lobsters swim free!


Hang onto the taste with this delicious recipe.

Adapted from a recipe courtesy of Philadelphia’s Singapore restaurant

For the “Lobster”:
4 medium potatoes
1 7 oz. can corn kernels
1/2 cup green peas
12 oz. Worthington Foods vegetarian “Skallops” or seitan
1 tsp. minced parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
Dash of pepper
1 cup flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp. soy sauce

For the batter:
3 cups self-rising flour
2 cups water

Oil for deep-frying

Peel and thinly slice the potatoes, and steam until soft. Add the remaining ingredients (except those for the batter) to the potatoes and mash. Divide into 10 equal portions. Mold the portions into chunks and dust with a little cornstarch.

For the batter, mix together the flour and water. Coat each “lobster” chunk with batter.

Heat the oil to 300°F in a deep-fryer. Add the mock lobster chunks and fry them until they are golden in color. Drain on paper towels. 

For a tasty dip, mix together barbecue sauce with a little hot mustard.


Source: Lobsterlib
Posted By: One Voice




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