Aquatic Drug Culture: Dolphins ‘deliberately get high’ on puffer fish nerve toxins by carefully chewing and passing them aroundPosted: December 31, 2013 | |
Adam Withnall writes: Dolphins are thought of as one of the most intelligent species in the animal kingdom – and experts believe they have put their ingenuity to use in the pursuit of getting “high”.
In extraordinary scenes filmed for a new documentary, young dolphins were seen carefully manipulating a certain kind of puffer fish which, if provoked, releases a nerve toxin.
Though large doses of the toxin can be deadly, in small amounts it is known to produce a narcotic effect, and the dolphins appeared to have worked out how to make the fish release just the right amount.
Carefully chewing on the puffer and passing it between one another, the marine mammals then enter what seems to be a trance-like state.
Rob Pilley, a zoologist who also worked as a producer on the series, told theSunday Times: “This was a case of young dolphins purposely experimenting with something we know to be intoxicating.
“After chewing the puffer gently and passing it round, they began acting most peculiarly, hanging around with their noses at the surface as if fascinated by their own reflection.
“It reminded us of that craze a few years ago when people started licking toads to get a buzz, especially the way they hung there in a daze afterwards. It was the most extraordinary thing to see.”
The documentary makers used spy cameras hidden in fake turtles, fish and squid to film 900 hours of footage showing dolphins in their natural habitats.
The scenes showing them “using” puffer fish will feature in the second episode of the series, which starts on Thursday.
It is the latest in a long run of wildlife documentaries made by Downer which use similar spy camera techniques. Previous series include Penguins: Spy in the Huddle, which like the Dolphins programme was narrated by David Tennant, Elephants: Spy in the Herd with David Attenborough and Lions: Spy in the Den.
Downer said: “The spy creatures were designed to infiltrate the dolphins’ hidden lives by looking like the marine creatures a dolphin might encounter in their everyday lives.”
- Puff, Puff, Pass: Teen Dolphins Are Caught Getting High On Puffer Fish (sunnyskyz.com)
- Dolphins like to get high by sucking on puffer fish (io9.com)
- Puff, puff, pass: Young dolphins deliberately chew puffer fish to get high with each other (rawstory.com)
- Dolphins ‘deliberately getting high on puffer fish toxins’ (metro.co.uk)
- Dolphins like to get high by sucking on puffer fish (lunaticoutpost.com)
- Dolphins Get High by Sucking on Puffer Fish (sorendreier.com)
- Apparently Dolphins Like To Get High Off Puffer Fish Toxins (buzzfeed.com)
- rose added a discussion to the group Animal Encounters (one-vibration.com)
- Apparently Dolphins Get High Thanks To Puffer Fish [Video] (winextra.com)
- Dolphins deliberately GET HIGH by chewing on puffer fish which release powerful toxins (mirror.co.uk)