Crabs are found all over the globe from oceans to streams and everything in between. With over 4500 different species of these crustaceans, they come in all shapes and sizes.
Crabbing is a huge industry that involves crabs being caught and farmed usually for human consumption as crab is a popular seafood dish.
In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at crabs and if they are able to perceive or feel things like we humans do, as well as answer, are crabs sentient?
Yes, crabs are now recognized by law in the UK as sentient beings. They do feel pain, and this legislation marks a cornerstone in protecting the welfare of the species.
Are Crabs Sentient Being?
UK researchers say that crabs, lobsters, and octopuses do indeed feel pain. In November 2021 the UK passed legislation that now recognizes all of these animals as sentient.
There is evidence to support that crabs live for two to three minutes after being dropped into a boiling pot of water and that the nervous system response carries on very intensely during that time.
Just as it would with a cat or a dog, concluding that these animals can feel pain just like any other sentient being.
The scientists during this study drew on over 300 scientific studies that looked at various different types of evidence for pain, as well as feelings of pleasure and joy.
The team recommended new ways of dealing with these animals instead of boiling them and putting them through pain, such as specialized knife techniques.
Do Crabs Have Consciousness?
When it comes to consciousness, we know very little about our own, let alone other animals.
It’s a topic that has baffled scientists and is still very much guesswork as to what consciousness is exactly and if it occurs in others aside from human beings.
Crabs have around 100,000 neurons in their nervous systems, when compared to the octopuses 500 million they are unlikely to take over the ocean with their cognitive abilities.
However, it’s thought that crabs do have consciousness, but not in the way that we humans do. Human consciousness is unique when compared to animal consciousness.
Crabs’ behavior is very much innately programmed, meaning they are guided by their instincts, and not learned or developed by their understanding of the world around them.
They instinctively know that they need to head to shallow waters in order to breed, and can be seen migrating there in the millions in the case of the Christmas Island red crabs.
Whereas we humans become individuals and learn based on our environments, and circumstances that happen to us as well as the people around us.
What The Law Says
The UK government says that crabs, lobsters, octopuses, and other related species will be included in the Animal Welfare (Sentience) bill.
Lawmakers in the UK are planning to make it illegal to boil these animals alive and provide them with more protection under the animal welfare sentience bill.
Several other countries now afford these species protection in animal welfare legislation, including New Zealand, Norway, Germany, Austria, and parts of Italy.
This paves way for legal protection from practices that include being boiled alive and having tendons and their pincers cut off.
The law now recognizes these animals as sentient beings, and boiling crabs or lobsters alive is now seen as “unnecessary torture”.
In the United States, boiling lobsters alive has been outlawed since 1999, but sadly it still happens all across the country.
So, are crabs sentient beings? Absolutely. It’s now widely understood that crabs, lobsters, and octopuses are indeed sentient beings.
They feel pain and have emotions much like we humans do, and although their consciousness works in a different way, they are able to feel pain and experience joy.
Studies have shown and proven that when crabs are boiled in hot water, their nervous system is still responding very intensely for two to three minutes, which indicates that they are in a lot of pain.
They try to climb out of the pot and escape as they are in a lot of pain, as would you and I if we were placed in a pan full of boiling hot water.
Just because they are crustaceans does not mean that they do not feel pain, and here at MarinePatch, we are very happy that new legislation is coming in to now protect these animals.
Hopefully, this post has helped you understand more about crabs and why they are sentient beings.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and feel free to share it with others that may find it of value.
Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years. I’ve spent over a decade in the marine wildlife industry and spent years out in the field conducting research. In today’s modern world, an online blog is the best place for me to share my findings and reach as many people as possible to help educate and inspire others. Enjoy your time here and you’re welcome back anytime!