10 Little Known Facts About The Ocean

1. Fish are sentient. They can suffer and feel pain and fear.
It is a complete myth that fish are "dumb and numb." Scientific evidence shows that fish are thinking, feeling beings. They may not make facial expressions that we can readily understand and they may not scream or shout (audibly to humans), but this does not mean that fish are incapable of pain or suffering [1, 2]. According to biologist and ethologist, Jonathan Balcombe,
Using facial expression as a guide for sentience is hardly valid when one considers that some of the most intelligent and highly sentient marine vertebrates - namely the dolphins and whales - also lack facial expression, at least any that most of us can readily detect...Crests, dewlaps, mouth-gapes, pupil dilation and contraction, color changes, and body postures and movements are among the many visual ways fish and other animals convey emotions [2].
Fish manifest their emotions in many ways such as the release of pain and fear chemicals [1].
Fish take 48 hours to return to normal hormone levels following rough handling (e.g. being put into small buckets after fishing) [2].
A study found that when painful substances (e.g., acetic acid, bee venom) were applied to the lips of trout, their heart rates increased and they took longer to resume feeding [1].
These fish also exhibited unusual behaviors after being harmed, including rocking from side to side while balanced on their pectoral fins, and rubbing their lips into the gravel and against the tank walls. Treatment with a pain suppressant significantly lowered these effects. Other experiments have found that fish learn to avoid unpleasant stimuli such as electric shocks, and piercing of their lips by sharp hooks [2].

2. Fish have long-term memories and can recognize familiar individuals.
It is a myth that fish have a short-term or a "three-second memory." For example, in captive studies, bluegill sunfishes remembered how much food they obtained when swimming with different foraging partners. This was taken as an indication for the fish on how successful the foraging was. Based on their acquired knowledge, the fish avoided less successful foraging partnerships.

Research has also shown that fish are capable of learning and memorizing the locations of landmarks and obstacles in their environments. For example,
Blind Mexican cave fishes use their lateral line organs to detect small differences in water flow patterns as displaced water reflects off objects in their environments...Once they have developed their mental maps, they swim faster in familiar surroundings [1].

3. Fish have social intelligence and social preferences. They cooperate, have disputes, and reconcile.
Research has shown preferences for schooling with familiar fish in at least eighteen different species. The mutual relationship between cleaner fish and their clients also demonstrates the social interaction between fish. Clients can even be choosy, selecting cleaner fish that provide high-quality service.
There is a mutual trust—cleaners will not bite or be bitten by a customer—and cleaners are paid in the form of sloughing skin, parasites, algae, or other contaminants that they remove from the client's body and eat. These fishes are very busy: a single cleaner wrasse can have more than 2,300 interactions per day with clients of various species [1].
In the journal Fish and Fisheries, biologists Calum Brown, Kevin Laland, and Jens Krause state:
...Fish are regarded as steeped in social intelligence, pursuing Machiavellian strategies of manipulation, punishment and reconciliation, exhibiting stable cultural traditions, and co-operating to inspect predators and catch food [2].

4. Roughly 2.7 trillion fish are killed every year.
Because the suffocation and murder of fish is largely ignored, humans kill trillions of fish per year, excluding the unreported and unregulated deaths. In fact, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),
...oceans are cleared at twice the rate of forests.
This is alarming in and of itself, especially because

(see here, herehere)

5. 3/4 of the world's fisheries are exploited or depleted.
According to the United Nations, 80% of the world's fish stocks (that are monitored) are fully exploited or overexploited. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that more than 70% of the world's fish species are fully exploited or depleted.

6. We could see the global collapse of all fished species by 2048.
Yes. Because of humans, the amount of fished species on this planet is plummeting. At this rate, the oceans could be fishless by 2048. Animals are living, sentient beings and we are knowingly exploiting and slaughtering them. The ocean is essential to life on earth (humans included) and we are knowingly destroying it. Contrary to what the major ocean "protection" organizations suggest, "sustainable" fishing is clearly not the answer.*

*Many environmental organizations receive funding from animal product industries, such as the fishing, meat, dairy, and egg industries, which massively influences the work of the organizations. Money plays a huge factor in why these "environmental" agencies hide the truth and refuse to address the devastation and atrocities animal agriculture is responsible for (see here).

7. For each pound of shrimp caught, as many as 20 pounds of non-targeted animals are caught and discarded as bykill.
In addition to suffocating and killing targeted species (shrimp, fish, etc.), the various fishing equipment (e.g., nets, fishing lines, hooks) and fishing techniques (e.g., bottom trawling, purse seining, longlining, drift netting) can trap and kill many non-targeted animals such as whales, dolphins, sea turtles, seals, sharks, and birds.

Bycatch or bykill are the unintended species that are trapped in fishing gear and usually discarded. Bycatch can be anywhere from 30% and upwards of the overall catch [3].

Discarded animals are the unintentional, undesired, or less profitable animals caught and dumped at sea dead, dying, or likely to die.
Which of the following species' populations have been exploited and diminished as a result of fishing and animal agriculture?
(a) sea turtles
(b) dolphins
(c) whales
(d) seals
Answer: all of the above and more!

8. From being caught in fishing lines and nets and having their fins hacked off alive, tens of millions of sharks are killed every year. 
Excluding unreported and unregulated fishing, around 50 million to 100 million sharks are killed per year. According to the FAO, sharks play a crucial role in maintaining the balance and ecological sustainability of marine life. Despite their sentience and significance, millions of sharks suffer and endure having their fins sliced off alive before being tossed into the ocean to sink to the bottom and die.
(see here, here, here)

9. Fishing boats kill roughly 650,000 whales, dolphins, and seals every year.
It's not quite the boats' fault. The problem is the humans on the boats who are killing animals (fishing) and the humans that may pay them to do so (consumers). When it comes to exploiting animals, it's all about supply and demand.

10. Animal agriculture is the LEADING CAUSE of 
  • Species Extinction
  • Ocean Dead Zones
  • Water Pollution
  • Habitat Destruction

It doesn't stop there. Not only are animal products detrimental to health and a result of animal exploitation and abuse, they also require more resources and cause more environmental destruction than plant-based alternatives.

  • Deforestation: The leading causes of rainforest destruction are livestock and livestock feed (fodder crops). Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of amazon destruction. (see more deforestation examples under fact 4)
  • Climate Change: Animal agriculture accounts for 51% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than the 13% from all transportation combined.
  • Waste of limited resources: Animal agriculture uses 34-76 trillion gallons of water every year. Livestock is the leading contributor of the desertification of 1/3 of the world. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef, 477 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of eggs, nearly 900 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of cheese, and 1,000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk.

  • World Hunger: 82% of starving children live in countries where animals are bred and fed to be killed and eaten by people in developed countries. We are growing enough food to feed 10 billion people. If we stopped breeding and feeding animals to be slaughtered, we could use the food to feed everyone on this planet.
  • Animal Cruelty: Over 6 million animals are killed for food every single hour (not including unreported and unregulated deaths). I haven't even mentioned mother and child separation, artificial insemination, anal electrocution, bolting, dissection, skinning, beating, stabbing, strangling...

It still doesn't end there (see here and here for more).
Animal agriculture is the cruelest, most destructive force on the planet. Eating animals or animal products—their flesh (meat), their ovulations (eggs), their bodily fluids (milk, honey, blood, pus, etc.)—is unethical, unhealthy, and unsustainable.

Another Fact: You CAN make a difference.
You can not be an environmentalist if you are not vegan. "Adjusting your thermostat," "installing low-flow shower heads," "changing your lightbulbs," etc. is NOTHING compared to the biggest impact you can make: simply being vegan. Every single day, a vegan saves

  • 1,100 gallons of water
  • 45 pounds of grain
  • 30 sq ft of forested land
  • 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent
  • 1 animal's life

This does not even begin to encompass the impact of activism and spreading the vegan message to others. Being vegan benefits you, the animals (this includes humans and non-human animals), and the entire planet. Check out the references and documentaries below for more information.

References and For More Information:

Forks Over Knives (also available on Netflix)

[1] The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure by Jonathan Balcombe
[2] Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good by Jonathan Balcombe
[3] Environmental Science for a Changing World by Anne Houtman, Susan Karr, and Jeneen Interlandi
[not all post body links are repeated here]


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