Dolphins Love Getting High Off Pufferfish


The dolphin-pufferfish relationship is a “bite-me-to-get-high” ordeal!

Eating pufferfish, even in small amounts, might bring adventurous death to us humans. For dolphins, though, it’s a different story altogether. A BBC documentary study called Dolphins: Spy  In The Pod  revealed that dolphins are very much given to getting high off pufferfish, on purpose, and then pass these creatures  around much like humans would illegally a joint.

Surprised? Well, the dolphin is one of our most intelligent buddies from the animal kingdom; this is just them gone rogue. 

Why is the pufferfish their preferred drug?

Dolphins Love Getting High Off Pufferfish

Pufferfish contain an intoxicant called tetrodotoxin, which is a neurotoxin. If humans consume this in small amounts, they can drop dead (which is why we won’t find it on a menu). However, dolphins eat Pufferfish to get ‘high’ (when they consume this in tiny amounts). Their behaviour once they’re high resembles the behavior of those of us who started licking toads for a hit.

What do dolphins do to get high?

Now that’s a fun fact about dolphins we like!

In order to get high, dolphins first find a pufferfish to get high from. Next, one dolphin gently bites on it, and starts passing it around to its dolphin friends. Seems to us like a low-key underwater party. The dolphins were found munching on the pufferfish in small amounts so as to get intoxicated enough. As we’ve mentioned, we were able to identify their behavior because of our previous experience with neurotoxins. The dolphins held their noses up on the surface, fascinated by their own reflection. Looks like tetrodotoxin took away their body awareness, too. Young dolphins who got high might have been doing it for experimental purposes, so the shock was apparent.

How do we know this? Were not the dolphins camera-conscious?

Dolphins Love Getting High Off Pufferfish

So that the dolphins could be themselves and behave naturally, the cameras were hidden in fake sea turtles, squids and other things resembling sea creatures and objects that dolphins encounter in everyday life. A 900 hours long footage was recorded for BBC One, enabling scientists and the rest of us nerds to be able to understand dolphin behaviour and their voluntary intoxication.

Are there any other marine and sea creatures dolphins could get high off?

dolphin puffer fish

A hundred percent yes. Why dolphins chose only pufferfish is hard to tell because there are other sea creatures who contain intoxicants as well. And not just numbing, mind-boggling neurotoxins, but recreational and stimulating ‘drugs’ too. Some of these toxins also have a hallucinogenic effect. Even though it has been a couple of years since “ Spy in the Pod, whether dolphins are actually getting high is still controversial among scientists and zoologists. If their trance-like state is anything to go by, though, dolphins might have joined bigger species of creatures who have a way to get pleasurably high.

Liked knowing this? You’ll also like: Mama Dolphins Sing To Their Little Ones Before Giving Birth


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