Wildlife documentary filmmakers believe they’ve witnessed dolphins getting “high” by chewing on puffer fish.
London’s The Sunday Times reports that the BBC One documentary captured male dolphins chewing on the fish, which releases a nerve toxin to protect itself when threatened.
The toxin can be deadly, but in small amounts, it seemed to have a narcotic effect on the marine mammals. Like teenage boys with a joint, the bottlenose dolphins passed the fish around, taking turns to chew on it, before going into a trance-like state. It seems they know just how much to tease the puffer fish to get a buzz.
The documentary, Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, used remote-controlled cameras hidden in fake turtles, squid and fish to shoot more then 900 hours of dolphin behaviour in the wild.
Zoologist Rob Pilley, a producer on the series, which goes to air in the UK this week, told The Sunday Times that it was extraordinary to see the young dolphins experimenting.
“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,” he said. “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’s not the first time dolphins, believed to be one of the most intelligent of animals, have been caught indulging in human vices. They’ve also been filmed masturbating.