The drug craze that’s sweeping the oceans: teen dolphins getting high on pufferfish
Teenagers like to get high — it’s an inter-species thing. That is, it’s not just teenage humans who are fond of experimenting with neurotoxins to experience the world differently. Dolphins do too.
Young dolphins carefully manipulate aptly-named pufferfish to release its toxins. They pass it on like a joint and fall into a trance. It’s deliberate behaviour, and seems to carry some of the same hallmarks as human drug use.
The BBC documentary crew that caught the behaviour on film used a series of spy cameras disguised like sea creatures and managed to get closer than ever before to the marine mammals. As you can see in the video up top, they even documented a superpod of three thousand dolphins hanging out together in the ocean. THREE THOUSANDS DOLPHINS!
As for the drug use, the pufferfish has to be the right kind, kind of like how some salvia is just run-of-the-mill sage and some is a powerful hallucinogen. And similarly to many human drugs of choice, too much of a good thing can be lethal.
Of course, dolphins are just the newest creatures we’ve discovered to enjoy getting tipsy. Another species, that, like dolphins and humans, are famed for their intelligence, elephants, have long been known to enjoy a drink. Elephants are smart enough to get their liquor from villages they pillage. And they party hard.
Horses are into dangerous locoweed. Bighorn sheep use lichen off rocks. Wallabies use poppies for opium, just like us. Birds sometimes eat rotten berries. It’s a wild world out there.
You can check out the BBC’s clips of dolphins getting high for yourself on the second episode of Dolphins: Spy in the Pod which airs on Thursday, Jan. 2.