Did You Know Dolphins Get High On Pufferfish?

A dolphin swimming in the water

Dolphins are unequivocally one of the smartest, if not the smartest wild animal on earth. Their ability to communicate with one another and the teamwork they exhibit while hunting is truly extraordinary. Some of the smartest dolphins are likely more intelligent than some of the dumbest humans.

Dolphins are also chill as hell though, and apparently, they like to party.

One of the few wild animals known to “do it” just for fun instead of just to procreate, dolphins also reportedly get high on pufferfish.

Pufferfish contain a neurotoxin potent enough to paralyze a human if the fish are consumed without proper preparation, but scientists have witnessed dolphins treating pufferfish like a chew toy and passing that thing around like a re-rolled White Owl at Willie Nelson’s birthday party.

Rob Piley, a zoologist that studies dolphins for a living confirmed the phenomena a while back while making a documentary.

Using a camera disguised as a sea turtle, Piley was able to get unprecedented footage of a dolphin pod without disturbing their natural behavior. The event was filmed in waters near Mozambique on the southeast coast of Africa.

Apparently, the dolphins were observed playing with pufferfish for up to half an hour, frequently nudging the fish with their rostrums.

“This was a case of young dolphins purposely experimenting with something we know to be intoxicating … After chewing the puffer gently and passing it around, they began acting most peculiarly, hanging around with their noses at the surface as if fascinated by their own reflection.”

“We saw the dolphins handle the puffers with kid gloves, very gently and delicately like they were almost milking them to not upset the fish too much or kill it.”

While obviously not a traditional THC-induced high like with marijuana, small doses of the tetrodotoxin that pufferfish secrete can cause numbness, tingling, and lightheadedness. Somewhat trippy feelings that the dolphins appeared to be intentionally seeking.

Other scientists have cast their doubts on the idea that dolphins use pufferfish as a recreational drug, but their aspersions appear to be nothing more than speculation based on what seems to be more of a party pooper attitude than any actual scientific evidence to the contrary.

The video evidence of the dolphins confirms the odd behavior described by Piley, and the chemical compounds found in pufferfish are well understood. How often dolphins use pufferfish to feel numb, tingly, and lightheaded can certainly be debated, but if it’s happened at least once then there’s a chance it’s happened before.

We need the world’s foremost nature narrator, Snoop Dog, to provide some commentary on this video.

We also need to legalize pufferfish (t-shirt idea?) so these dolphins don’t wind up getting into trouble.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock