Many people think fish are dumb and don’t feel. But several studies are dismantling that myth.
Fish have an excellent memory. This has been shown in carp, paradise fish, brages, goldfish, sockeye salmon, gardíes, trout and the entire gobies family, to give a few examples.
Many fish use tools, an ability thought to be uniquely human until the 1960s. Since they have no hands, they have to be very ingenious to do so. Archerfish use streams of water to hunt insects from trees. River rays create currents of water with their fins to reach food. Other examples can be found in damselfish, Atlantic cod, and various species of wrasse.
There are fish that build! They do it by means of excavations, piling up and terraced. The burrows built by mudskippers, red band fish, jaw fish and puffers, among others, can be extremely complex. Some have tunnels and internal chambers. The Japanese puffer fish takes a whole week to build a very precise mandala-like mound of sand, which can have a diameter almost 20 times its size.
Cheating is also a skill that many fish have. Some even go so far as to fake their death, among other distraction mechanisms. In addition, many hide food and have to be very skillful in doing so so that no one sees them and takes away their food. This implies that they can also plan ahead for the future.
Many fish work cooperatively both with members of their own species and with other species. Some do it to fool predators, others to hunt. There are also small fish that are responsible for cleaning the skin and/or teeth of larger animals, such as sharks and even dolphins, whales or turtles.
Various studies have shown that fish are conscious and they can feel pain, sadness, pleasure and other emotions.
However, so many fish die for human consumption that they cannot be counted as individuals but in tons. Around 180 million tonnes of fish are consumed around the world each year, some wild-caught and some farmed. In addition, an incalculable number of fish live in captivity in small aquariums, as if they were objects to display in showcases.
It is time to recognize fish as our neighbors and respect their life, their freedom and their autonomy. Take the step, go vegan!