It’s almost unbearable to watch as one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Joaquin Phoenix, panics while trying to breathe underwater, gasping for air as fear floods his face. Joaquin is an Academy Award–nominated actor who has won high critical praise for his performances, but this is one performance that’s particularly meaningful. In this one-of-a-kind video, shot by well-known photographer and shark expert Michael Muller, Joaquin reenacts the terror that fish face as they suffocate in the last moments of their lives.
Fish are no different from humans, dogs, or cats when it comes to feeling fear and pain. They have unique personalities, and even though people might think otherwise, it has been scientifically proved that they have the same pain response system found in mammals and birds. They may not look as cuddly as kittens, but no animal deserves to die a terrifying, painful death in order to wind up on a dinner plate. Every year, more than 6 billion fish are killed for food. After being hooked through the mouth or scooped up in nets, fish struggle to breathe as they realize that they’ve been ripped from their natural environments. It may be silent, but they are screaming for help.