The Internet is Horrified by Another Video of Live Crabs Moving Inside Plastic Packaging

Jamie Bichelman - Author

Dec. 4 2023, Published 11:40 a.m. ET

Two crabs in a Japanese market attempt to escape their plastic packaging
Source: Araki fresh fish store / X

A video of live crabs prying their way through plastic packaging posted by user Araki fresh fish store on X (formerly Twitter) at a fish store in Japan showcases the grim reality of crabs sold commercially.

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The video, posted by a fish store located in Rikuzentakata, a city in Iwate Prefecture, Japan, elicited strong reactions from users aghast by the crabs’ attempted escape for freedom.

According to the highest-viewed response, “They are so fresh that I would rather keep them than buy them and eat them,” a sentiment echoed by others on reposts of the video, including the succinct summation of the crabs’ fate: “This is torture.”

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Green Matters has previously reported on the dire situation of crab populations decreasing at an alarming rate, due in no small part to overfishing by the fishing industry and massive amounts of plastic in the ocean.

Dungeness crabs on the deck of a fishing boat in California
Source: Getty Images
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A viral video shows live crabs trapped beneath plastic packaging in a Japanese market.

The cruel video, as one user described it, shows one crab orienting their eyes to their surroundings, as the animal fights to break through the plastic packaging. A second crab in a nearby package likewise begins to break through, before ceasing the fight.

According to a rough translation via Google Translate of the text accompanying the post, “The crab is alive and well today,” an assertion with no guarantee irrespective of where the crabs are sold.

Live crabs fighting their way out of packaging through plastic cling wrap is nothing new, as The Independent reported the very same torturous fate befell crabs in a London market in 2015.

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Per an NPR report on one such practice in Asia, crabs are packaged in plastic boxes and kept alive in refrigerated vending machines just cold enough to keep them fresh but to avoid freezing them.

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Do crabs sold commercially feel pain?

Of course they do. Next question.

While those with a financial stake in the age-old question may biasedly beg to differ, scientists nevertheless devised heartbreakingly cruel experiments to test whether crabs feel pain. And they discovered, per Science, that crabs do feel pain. Shocking.

The science is clear, per Veganuary: Fish, in this case lobsters and crabs specifically, feel pain when they’re boiled, and humans should stop doing that. Furthermore, when crabs are mutilated by humans, the crabs display signs of distress, per the organization Crustacean Compassion.

Indeed, when manually declawed by humans, crabs exhibit disturbing signs of suffering through their behavior that they otherwise do not display when they lose their claws of natural causes (i.e. without human interference).

The potential toxicity of consuming a crab once frozen to death, of course, is just another reason to ditch seafood in favor of plant-based alternatives. Aside from the culinary faux pas described by Food & Wine of eating previously-frozen crab, the liver of a crab that is frozen alive will release enzymes that spoil the meat and may potentially be dangerous for human consumption, per Fanatically Food.

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