A close up of a porcupine fish looking at the camera.

An incredible fish friendship.

This incredible rescue video captured more than a life being saved.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated April 13, 2022

When we think about animal friendships, it’s easy to default to those who we know and share our lives with. But some of the most incredible bonds exist among species who call the ocean home, we just don’t see them as often.

Fish are amazing animals who experience the world in many ways that are similar to us. Their capacity to suffer and experience emotion has been long overlooked, but research is revealing more and more why these animals deserve our care and consideration.

This incredible underwater rescue captured more than a life-saving effort by a compassionate beachgoer, it also revealed a bond between two fish, so strong that even the threat of a human ‘predator’ couldn’t break it.

Share this video with a friend who is always there for you.

Fish have pain receptors and the capacity to suffer

While we might not be able to read the pain on a fish’s face, the evidence is increasingly clear that they experience a range of emotions including fear, joy, relaxation and playfulness. We know that fish have receptors to feel pain,[1] experience stress when they are confined[2] and, like us, try to avoid frightening events.[3]

So when a fish is dragged out of water by a metal hook that has pierced his mouth it causes him significant pain and stress. So much so that research has found that if he survives, he’s likely to avoid being caught again.[4] Aquarium-bound fish have been seen playing (and possibly trying to reduce boredom) by riding the current of water pumps in their tanks, while other fish have been observed toying with objects seemingly for fun.[5]

Fish are complex individuals, but sadly they are some of the most abused animals on the planet. Each year, demand for fish and fish products means that trillions of these intelligent, sensitive individuals are dragged out of oceans or raised in factory farm conditions. But, despite our differences, what we share with these animals is the desire to experience joy and to be free from suffering.

Be a friend to fish today!

Thankfully we can help protect fish from cruelty in our everyday lives by choosing to cut back on ‘seafood’ or leave fish off our plate completely. Discover healthy, fish-friendly cooking tips and recipes in our FREE Veg Starter Kit.



[1] Sneddon, L. U., Braithwaite, V. A., & Gentle, M. J. (2003). Do fishes have nociceptors? Evidence for the Evolution of a Vertebrate Sensory System. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 270(1520), 1115-1121.

[2] Pottinger, T., Prunet, P., & Pickering, A. (1992). The effects of confinement stress on circulating prolactin levels in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in fresh water. General and Comparative Endocrinology 88(3), 454-60.

[3] Yue, S., Moccia, R., & Duncan, I. (2004). Investigating fear in domestic rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, using an avoidance learning task. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 87, 343-354

[4] Raat, A. J. (1985). Analysis of angling vulnerability of common carp, Cyprinus carp/0 L., in catch-and-release angling in ponds. Aquaculture Research, 16, 171-187.

[5] Burghardt, G. M., Dinets, V., & Murphy, J. B. (2014). Highly Repetitive Object Play in a Cichlid Fish (Tropheus duboisi). Ethology, 120, 1-7.