Octopuses, crabs, and lobsters are creatures with the “exceptional” ability of “feeling” both pain and hardship, according to the review conducted by the U.K. government.

Their “talents” have made the species be classified as one among sentient beings under protection according to new animal welfare laws, as CNN reported.

How should these “sentient” creatures be treated?

Based on research with 300 scientific studies evaluating evidence, experts at the London School of Economics have determined cephalopods (including octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish) and decapods (including crabs, lobsters, and crayfish) need to be handled as sentient beings.

The list of sentient beings has already included Vertebrates, animals with a backbone, under new animal welfare legislation, which is currently under debate in the United Kingdom.

Animal Welfare Minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said that the Animal Welfare Sentience Bill ensures animal wellbeing is properly handled in the new law development. Besides, scientific findings have proved the capability of decapods and cephalopods of experiencing pain, confirming the need to treat these creatures humanely, as CNN reported.

The Bill, which isn’t yet law, appears as part of a wider government Action Plan for Animal Welfare. It will conduct reports on the impact that government decisions have made on sentient animals’ welfare.

The report informed the best practices applying for decapods and cephalopods’ transport, stunning and slaughters. Besides, lobsters and crabs shouldn’t be boiled alive, as the report said.

A screenshot of “My Octopus teacher” documentary film (Netflix/Screenshot via TheBL/YouTube)

How ‘smart’ are these sentient creatures?

Learning ability, pain receptors, relationships between pain receptors and specific brain regions, reactions to anesthetics or analgesics, behavior including balance threat against the opportunity for reward and protection against injury or danger, appear as eight different manners to assess their sensitivity, according to the report.

Moreover, the findings have shown that octopods have “very strong” sentience while crabs possess “strong” sensitivity. Other animals in these two groups, known as squid, cuttlefish, and lobsters, have exhibited the considerable but not with a strong ability of “feeling.”

The report also demonstrated that scientists pay unidentical attention to different animals according to the diversified evidence. It said scientists tend to focus on some (animals) rather than others due to experimental conditions (Eg: which one stayed well in labs) and geography (Eg: which creatures are found in the lab’s location). 

Therefore, the report suggested that all these cephalopods and decapods should receive the same protection. 

“My Octopus Teacher,” a recent Netflix documentary, displayed the octopuses’ outstanding capabilities. Although octopuses’ brain structure is quite unlike that of humans, they possess some of the same functions as mammal brains, including learning abilities with solving problems skills and even the capability of dreaming.

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