Sentience

Cognition and Self Awareness in Manta Rays

Although born in the landlocked country of Hungary in Budapest, Dr Csilla Ari fell in love with the sea as a child and has never looked back. Today, she is a research associate at the University of South Florida, where she strives to better understand the biology and behavior of manta rays. She has also set up the Manta Memories project, which aims to help end illegal manta ray fishing.

Pain in Fish & Sharks

A shark named Tillium with a hook caught in the mouth

It was Dr Lynne Sneddon, at the University of Liverpool, who proved scientifically that fish feel pain and suffer. Her team found 58 receptors located on the faces and heads of trout that responded to harmful stimuli. They resembled those found in other vertebrates, including humans. A detailed map was created of pain receptors in fishes' mouths and all over their bodies.

Cognition in Sharks

A difficulty in obtaining information about wild animal behaviour is that detailed observations of different individuals is necessary over long periods of time, and this is especially hard to achieve with sharks. But in the shallow lagoons of French Polynesia, such observation was possible without the encumbrance of scuba gear, and without the problem of the shark disappearing into the depths.

Deep Trust In Sharks

Jim Abernethy, owner and operator of Scuba Adventures, was the dive operator who showed all of the others that sharks are peaceful animals who want nothing to do with humans as a food source.

He spends most of his time with wild sharks during dives from his liveaboard ship, The Shear Water, at remote sites in the vicinity of the Bahamas, and is on land for only about 40 days a year.

Does this whale talk?

Excerpts from Current Biology, Volume 22, Issue 20, R860-R861, 23 October 2012

The whale lived among a group of dolphins and socialized with two female white whales. The whale was exposed to speech not only from humans at the surface -- it was present at times when divers used surface-to-diver communication equipment.

A painted comber hides in the seagrass

Fish get emotional too

Now, additional findings lends further credence to the notion that fish do indeed possess emotions and harbour thought processes. It turns out that fish growing up in the wild among predators use their left eye to look at novel objects, while their offspring raised in captivity use the right eye.