By Pat Anson, PNN Editor
Do lobsters feel pain when they’re boiled alive?
Seafood lovers, cooks, academics, animal rights activists and even governments have debated that question for years, with the general consensus being that they do. Lobsters, crabs and other crustaceans will often writhe in pain and try to escape when dropped into a pot of scalding hot water. The practice is considered so cruel that Switzerland and New Zealand made it illegal to boil a live lobster.
Some cooks try to ease the lobsters’ pain by stunning them with a jolt of electricity or putting them on ice to dull their senses before cooking them. In 2018, a restaurant owner in Maine even blew marijuana smoke on a lobster named Roscoe, who reportedly grew so mellow he never wielded his claws as weapons again while in captivity.
We’ll never know the long-term effect of getting a lobster stoned because Roscoe was returned to the ocean as a thank you for his service. Good for him.
Which brings us to a bizarre study recently completed by scientists at the University of California San Diego and the Scripps Research Institute, who decided to replicate the Roscoe experiment in a lab.
“The 2018 minor media storm about a restaurant owner proposing to expose lobsters to cannabis smoke really was the starting point. There were several testable claims made and I realized we could test those claims. So we did,” lead author Michael Taffe, PhD, an adjunct professor at Scripps Research told IFLScience.