CHESTERTOWN, MD—Do fish feel pain? And does it matter? These are the questions Victoria Braithwaite, a researcher at Pennsylvania State University, will address in a lecture at Washington College on Wednesday, November 16. Part of the McLain Lecture Series, the talk will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, Toll Science Center, 300 Washington Avenue. A book signing will follow in the McLain Atrium.
Braithwaite, Associate Director and Professor of Fisheries and Biology at the Penn State Institute of the Neurosciences, researches the evolution of animal cognition with a focus on fish learning, perception, and memory. In her 2010 book Do Fish Feel Pain? ( Oxford University Press), she discusses the ethical questions raised by current fishing practices. According to Braithwaite, fish are not the simple-brained creatures most of us perceive them to be, but are instead complex animals with accurate memories, stress responses, and physiological similarities with other vertebrates—even humans.
In light of recent scientific evidence showing that fish have specialized pain receptors, she argues that the kinds of protective measures in place for other animals should be extended to fish.
Braithwaite’s lecture is sponsored by the McLain Program in Environmental Studies and the campus chapter of Sigma Xi, a scientific-research honor society. The Joseph H. McLain ’37 Program in Environmental Studies was established in 1990 to recognize and augment study in the fields of aquatic and environmental studies.