(ANIMAL SCIENCE/FISH/OCEANS) A recent paper published in the Animal Cognition Journal titled, “Fish Intelligence, Sentience and Ethics,” uncovers some new facts about fish intelligence. Fish, a species commonly disregarded as lesser than other mammals, may actually be more intelligent than once thought.

Read on to uncover some surprising fish facts that will have you thinking about how smart fish truly are! — Global Animal

Photo Credit: Stock Photo
Don’t let fish intelligence fool you. Photo Credit: Stock Photo

Fun Fish Facts:

1. Some fish, like the Cleaner Wrasse and Surgeonfish, can give “back rubs” by eating parasites off other fish bodies. Fish clean one another by rubbing up against each others’ pectoral fins, resulting in a relaxing massage.
Surgeonfish clean one another by eating parasites off other fish bodies. Photo Credit: fishbreeds.net
Surgeonfish clean one another by eating parasites off other fish bodies. Photo Credit: fishbreeds.net

 

2. Fish have advanced nervous systems that allow them to feel pain.
Fish have more than 20 pain receptors in their mouths and heads. Photo credit: Sciencelakes.com
Fish have more than 20 pain receptors in their mouths and heads. Photo Credit: Sciencelakes.com

3. Fish have exceptional eyesight—they can detect motion and see focused images.
Some fish species have better vision than others. Photo Credit: iStockphoto
Some fish species have better vision than others. Photo Credit: iStockphoto

 

4. Fish have a great sense of smell, too. In dark ocean water, fish rely on their keen noses for survival.
Fish have a better sense of smell than than humans. Photo credit: Wallpapersscreensavers.blogspot.com
Fish have a better sense of smell than than humans. Photo Credit: Wallpapersscreensavers.blogspot.com

5. Fish have highly-developed hearing capabilities that allow them to detect electric currents in the water.
Fish use their lateral line system of receptors to detect underwater movement. Photo credit: Minnesota Sea Grant
Fish can also create their own electric currents in the water. Photo Credit: Minnesota Sea Grant

6. Fish develop an understanding of who belongs to their social group versus which fish are untrustworthy. According to “Fish Intelligence, Sentience and Ethics”:

“If a pair of fish inspects a predator, they glide back and forth as they advance towards the predator each taking it in turn to lead. If a partner should defect or cheat in any way, perhaps by hanging back, the other fish will refuse to cooperate with that individual on future encounters. This shows that the fish not only recall the identity of the defector but they also assign a social tag to them and punish them on future encounters.”

Fish typically do not accept sharks as members of their social group. Photo Credit: Mother Nature Network
Fish typically do not accept sharks as members of their social group. Photo Credit: Mother Nature Network

7. If a fish can escape from a fishing net, they will remember this information for up to a year, and therefore save him or herself from future fishy situations.
It's only a myth that fish have a three second memory. Photo credit: Fark
It’s only a myth that fish have a three second memory. Photo credit: Fark

At first glance, fish appear to lack the intelligence that other mammals possess. Fish, however, are living animals too, and deserve to be treated with respect. “Fish Intelligence, Sentience and Ethics” discusses how individuals should recognize that fish are sensitive creatures, and that protecting them must become a priority:

“Although scientists cannot provide a definitive answer on the level of consciousness for any non-human vertebrate, the extensive evidence of fish behavioral and cognitive sophistication and pain perception suggests that best practice would be to lend fish the same level of protection as any other vertebrate. We should therefore include fish in our ‘moral circle’ and afford them the protection they deserve.”

Next time, think twice before you decide to go fishing or eat some sushi—fish are actually much more complex than you’d think!

— Rebecca Hartt, exclusive to Global Animal

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