Dolphins in Western Australia are apparently chewing on toxic blowfish to get high

It appears that humans aren’t the only creatures on this planet on a constant lookout for ways to bend reality. Scientists in Western Australia have found that dolphins may be using toxic blowfish to get high.


Western Australian dolphins have been observed chewing and passing around toxic blowfish, apparently to get high.

Murdoch University researcher Krista Nicholson, who monitors dolphins occupying the Peel-Harvey coastal waters near Perth, said she has observed multiple cases of dolphins interacting with blowfish. She noted that juveniles in particular like to hold puffer fish in their mouths for a few hours then pass them around.

These blowfish have a lethal toxin called tetrodotoxin present in their skin, flesh and internal organs which is deadly to humans. For the dolphins though, it has a narcotic effect, placing them in a “trance-like state.”

The phenomenon has actually been documented once before, notes Nicholson. A BBC documentary from 2014 called Dolphins – Spy in the Pod, actually filmed the animals chewing, then “passing [a] puffer fish around”, she said.

“This was a case of young dolphins purposely experimenting with something we know to be intoxicating,” zoologist Rob Pilley, who was involved with the production of the doco, told the Sunday Times before its release. “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.”

However, Nicholson says that the this view was not held in the wider scientific community, with some saying the small amounts of tetrodotoxin only made the dolphins feel a numbing sensation, and the intention of doing so wasn’t to get ‘high’ as such.

Sounds pretty suss to me…


[via WA Today]