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January 16, 2009

Would you eat a sea kitten?

Posted: 12:46 PM ET

[cnn-photo-caption image=

caption="You can make a cute little sea kitten character like this at the new section of PETA's Web site,"]

You don't have to look at the page views of Web sites like to know that a lot of people adore kittens. Conversely, not as many people adore fish - in fact, has only the number 0.

The animal rights campaign group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, has decided to play off of our awe of kittens by re-branding fish as "sea kittens" in order to discourage people from killing and eating them.

"Would people think twice about ordering fish sticks if they were called Sea Kitten sticks? Help us save fish by changing their names!" PETA writes on its Web site.

The new sea kitten Web portal is complete with a petition, cute little stories about sea kittens - some attend Clamster University! - and a tool to design your own sea kitten. The petition has more than 4,544 signatures as of this writing.

"Given the drastic situation for this country's sea kittens - who are often the victims of many major threats to their welfare and ways of life - it's high time that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) stop allowing our little sea kitten friends to be tortured and killed. Who'd want to hurt a sea kitten anyway?!" the Web site says.

How far will this "sea kitten" label extend? Will people find themselves ordering the "Chilean striped sea kitten with mashed potatoes"?

Certainly there are already vegetarians out there who do not consume fish for ethical reasons. Princeton professor Peter Singer, famous for his arguments about why not to consume meat, similarly advocates avoiding eating fish in Animal Liberation, although notes that things do get fuzzier when considering simpler forms of marine life, such as mollusks and oysters.

Of course, besides being a favorite delicacy at restaurants and family dinners, fish also form part of specific eating rituals in certain cultures. For example, in China, the fish is served whole - with the head and tail intact - to represent prosperity, especially on Chinese New Year’s Eve. In Slovakia, it is traditional to let a carp swim in the family bathtub in the days before the feisty critter becomes part of the Christmas meal. And, it is a Jewish custom eat fish on the Sabbath, one reason being that the numerical value of the Hebrew word for fish, "dag," adds up to 7, and the Sabbath is the 7th day.

So what do you think: Is it ethically acceptable to eat fish? Will the sea kitten campaign be effective? Would your goldfish mind being called a sea kitten?

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Filed under: Animals • Oceans

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sanjosemike   January 25th, 2009 9:36 am ET


The posters who have said humans can't digest raw meat are simply wrong. They can. If they wish to eat raw meat in larger amounts, they need to do it over a period of time, in order to allow the intestinal flora to "adapt" to it. We have lots of e-coli. They will take care of it "as necessary."

If you try to push raw meat too hard and fast, I guarantee you will not tolerate it well (at the beginning.).

DJ is correct that humans are omnivores. It's a matter of species survival. That's one of the reasons why we've done so well, as a species.

A balanced ecology is the key. Humans, because they have the ability to control their ecology, have loused it up. Animal rights activists, although they mean well, have a hard time recognizing the horror of protein transfer between species.

And it is horrible. Animals suffer horribly and die. PETA want to change that, at least among humans. It's fully understandable. But it is not reality.

Nature is ugly in the extreme. The lady who runs PETA is an atheist, like I am. She of all people should understand. There is no god or gods. Nature is "what it is."

PETA is naive to the point of absurdity. All they do is shoot themselves in their own feet.


Charlotte in New Mexico   January 25th, 2009 10:12 am ET

Good grief. Without looking at ANY of the other comments, I surmise that PETA is trying to turn the world into vegetarians by whatever absurd extremes they can think up. Now, personally, I primarily eat vegetarian but I have no political agenda against the consumption of meat, fish and fowl. Nature designed us to be omnivores and there is such a thing as a food chain. That having been said, there is a lot of room for reducing the amount of animal / fish / fowl we eat; the advent of factory trawling, farming, and massive aquaculture (as well as huge cattle and chicken operations) have given rise to dangerous stresses on the populations of these creatures, absurd availability of these foods (without refrigerated trucks and industrial-sized fishing industries, people in the Midwest wouldn't be eating as much sushi as they can) if nothing else has contributed to our obesity epidemic and unhealthy heart and artery conditions in the human species that was designed to be omnivorous but has in the last 50 years towards absurdly high meat-based diets.

PETA's "sea kitten" and other similar ridiculous insults on the intelligence of the population is going to backfire, or, at the very least, lead the general public to completely dismiss the underlying legitimacy of a message that is being carried to extreme by over-zealous and rather unintelligent activism. PETA could convince us to reduce our consumption by pointing out the very real health implications, environmental motivations, even shaming us from a fashion and attractiveness standpoint, into shunning these foods, but a blatant insult to our intelligence is simply going to earn PETA,our scorn and eventual deaf ear.

Franko   January 25th, 2009 2:40 pm ET

You have the Animal Fat Marketing interests
Eggs, Cheese, Bacon, Steak, Fish
Only Ω3, Cod Liver, Fish oil is good -
Others, no matter how tasty, build up to heart bypass

PETA is mixing and trasposing images and peferences
To benefit a discussion of understanding

When the bugs get ground up with th wheat
You eat Bug Fat - Good or bad for your arteries ?

Jerry of Madison, WI   January 28th, 2009 12:13 pm ET

PETA is made up of whackos that give the human race a bad name... I say we take back the name PETA by re-defining it as...

People wo

Kenny   February 10th, 2009 5:20 pm ET

What a joke! PETA needs to go the way of the Bush Administration!!

Franko   February 12th, 2009 10:12 pm ET

There is a diversity of ecology of ideas
Reduce the diversity, kill ideas, Gore the truth
Everyone, self hypnotozed, - Heart bypass is good

Don   February 16th, 2009 10:12 am ET

I ordered the coffee cup *and* the button (available from Cafe Press). I did so mostly because it's so stupid that it's funny, and I support people that can produce entertainment at this level. PETA as a serious political org? Ha ha, that is to LAUGH.

So, get YOU a coffe cup, or button, or t-shirt today so PETA an continue to produce entertainment, because hey, they gotta eat too.

Tim   June 9th, 2009 4:36 pm ET

Check your facts...PETA will stoop to outright falsehood and complete fabrication if it "saves one animal"....look into the history of what they did in relation to Dog-mushing...they claimed mushers will kill unwanted puppies and then feed them back to the dogs....
1) none of the mushers in Fairbanks would consider this practice
2) the dogs would refuse to eat such offerings, except in the most extreme depths of starvation...even cut up, it would still smell such they would refuse it.
3) check into the WHOLE PETA agenda....if you own a pet, and don't let it run as wild as it wants to, if you make any effort to make it behave, you're "abusing the poor thing"....

Alex   June 11th, 2009 3:59 pm ET

Fish are so tasty that this new name is going to make kittens a dinner option as well.

seakittensareinmystomachnow   November 10th, 2009 12:17 pm ET

I am eating a sea kitten right now. Yum those things are SO good! PETA needs to stop making a fool of themselves.

Lance   March 31st, 2010 8:05 pm ET

Jesus ate fish.

Kian Gray   June 17th, 2010 11:19 pm ET

I always support the cause of PETA.:"

Jessica Bailey   September 14th, 2010 3:05 am ET

my friends and i are all members of PETA, we love to protect animals*;`

Detox Diets    October 13th, 2010 5:55 am ET

my sister is a member of PETA she really likes to protect the welfare of animals:`-

Teeth Whitening :   October 24th, 2010 7:37 pm ET

i would love to be a member of PETA, i love to protect animals rights'"

Rastus McGee   October 25th, 2010 8:04 am ET

Well, Those land kittens taste like......chicken

Rastue McGee   December 21st, 2010 2:50 pm ET

Well....kittens make good cut bait for running trot lines for CATfish! Y'need to keep'm fresh so keep them alive until you have lines and hooks ready in the boat.

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Felton Abatti   July 8th, 2013 11:23 pm ET

Vegetarianism can be adopted for different reasons. Many object to eating meat out of respect for sentient life. Such ethical motivations have been codified under various religious beliefs, along with the concept of animal rights. Other motivations for vegetarianism are health-related, political, environmental, cultural, aesthetic or economic..',`

Until next time

Animal liberation: Not the revolution but a part of one | David Benfell's Research Journal   November 28th, 2013 6:54 pm ET

[...] Landau, E. (2009, January 16). Would you eat a sea kitten? CNN. Retrieved from [...]

PETA needs to sit down, shut up, and go away | So, I'm Vegan. Now, What?   April 12th, 2014 11:01 am ET

[...] Elizabeth Landau, "Would you eat a sea kitten?" CNN, January 16, 2009,; Lauren W. List, "PETA: Too scandalous for TV and saving 'Sea Kittens'," [...]

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PETA needs to sit down, shut up, and go away – Not Housebroken   January 5th, 2017 2:45 am ET

[...] Elizabeth Landau, "Would you eat a sea kitten?" CNN, January 16, 2009,; Lauren W. List, "PETA: Too scandalous for TV and saving 'Sea Kittens'," [...]

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