Oh God, am I ready for this one?  New research suggests that fish have intelligence, emotions, social skills and “can feel pain in a manner similar to humans.”

A report published this morning by Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia highlights studies conducted by Professor Culum Brown that show:

Fish have very good memories, live in complex social communities where they keep track of individuals, and can learn from one another. This helps to develop stable cultural traditions. Fish even recognize themselves and others. They also cooperate with one another and show signs of…cooperation and reconciliation. They build complex structures, are capable of using tools, and use the same methods for keeping track of quantities as humans do. For the most part the primary senses of fish are just as good, and in many cases, better, than that of humans. And…there is mounting evidence that they can feel pain in a manner similar to humans.

You gonna eat that?

I already feel bad about the land animals I eat, and I pay increasing attention to their quality of life. I have, however, been able to maintain a distance of denial when it comes to fish. Truth be told, my tuna sandwich has been nagging at me of late, and I now wince when I walk by the children’s fishing pond here in Boulder where little kids giggle as fish twitch at the end of their lines before Grandad removes the hook and tosses them back to be caught again the next time they’re hungry.

To make things even more complicated, I just sat here and watched my little dog Stella catch, “play with” (torture), and devour a Miller moth.

Moral development is hard.