DAO 75:119-129 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/dao075119

Contribution to the DAO Special 'Welfare of Aquatic Organisms'

Ethics and invertebrates: a cephalopod perspective

Jennifer A. Mather1,*, Roland C. Anderson2

1University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta T1K 3M4, Canada
2Seattle Aquarium, Seattle, Washington 98101-4359, USA

ABSTRACT: This paper first explores 3 philosophical bases for attitudes to invertebrates, Contractarian/Kantian, Utilitarian, and Rights-based, and what they lead us to conclude about how we use and care for these animals. We next discuss the problems of evaluating pain and suffering in invertebrates, pointing out that physiological responses to stress are widely similar across the animal kingdom and that most animals show behavioral responses to potentially painful stimuli. Since cephalopods are often used as a test group for consideration of pain, distress and proper conditions for captivity and handling, we evaluate their behavioral and cognitive capacities. Given these capacities, we then discuss practical issues: minimization of their pain and suffering during harvesting for food; ensuring that captive cephalopods are properly cared for, stimulated and allowed to live as full a life as possible; and, lastly, working for their conservation.


KEY WORDS: Invertebrates · Ethics · Cephalopods · Animal pain · Animal suffering


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