A maritime experiment confirmed a long-time suspicion that young dolphins like to get high on puffer fish. The fish secretes a poison called tetrodotoxin which can easily kill a human. The poison is used in Japanese cuisine in precise doses to give customers a lightheaded feeling, but occasionally kills unlucky diners if the dosage is wrong.
A video recording provided by BBC shows a group of dolphins chewing on a still very much alive puffer fish to get a similar dizzy feeling. The fact that the cetaceans are passing the poor fish around, not unlike humans pass around a joint, only adds to the hilarity.
To obtain the footage, BBC crew used a camera-equipped robot fish which swam along with a group of adolescent dolphins to capture a dolphin “party” in which the animals throw the helpless fish out of the water before catching it again.
Pod of male bottlenose dolphins playing with a puffer fish, before biting on its skin to receive a 'narcotic' effect of the creature's secreted poison, tetrodotoxin. pic.twitter.com/E7diwVxjkN— Karen (@KLovesNature) September 24, 2019
When they are done, the dolphins released the puffer, which swam away in a visibly unsteady fashion. Following the social stunt, the dolphins looked a bit unsteady, too.
"After chewing the puffer and gently passing it round, they began acting most peculiarly – hanging around with their noses at the surface as if fascinated by their own reflection,” said zoologist Rob Pilley. "This was a case of young dolphins purposefully experimenting with something we know to be intoxicating.”
The Daily Star report notes that humans and dolphins are not the only creatures known for their propensity for getting stoned. Australian wallabies – distant relatives of the kangaroos – occasionally crash the poppy fields and munch on the flowers to get the opium within.
"The one interesting bit that I found recently in one of my briefs on the poppy industry was that we have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles," said Lara Giddings, Tasmania’s attorney general.
According to Giddings, stoned wallabies are a regular problem for poppy farmers and, in some cases, the small furry animals are blamed for crop circles.