A new BBC One documentary series shows that young dolphins are deliberately getting high in groups.
The documentary, entitled Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, filmed nearly 1000 hours of dolphins using modified remote-controlled spy cameras mounted in fake tuna, squids, turtles and dolphins.
As reported by The Verge:
A new BBC documentary will show adolescent dolphins getting high by chewing on pufferfish. The fish secrete a toxin that gives the dolphins a buzz, and the crew on the upcoming show filmed male bottlenose dolphins passing around a puffer fish before acting “most peculiarly.” The program’s executive producer John Downer notes the dolphin were in a trancelike state, “hanging around with their noses at the surface as if fascinated by their own reflection.”
The toxin is deadly in large enough doses but has a narcotic effect in smaller doses. As is shown in the documentary, young dolphins have learned how much toxin to consume and carefully chew on the fish and then pass them around to on another.
Raw Story reports that Rob Pilley, a zoologist who worked as a producer for the series, notes that:
“This was a case of young dolphins purposely experimenting with something we know to be intoxicating. 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.”
Comparing the dolphins’ behavior to that of humans, Pilley went on to add:
“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 was the most extraordinary thing to see.”
The first part of the two segment series premiers on January 2nd, but the segment showing the dolphins getting high does not appear until the second part which airs on January 9th.
You can watch the official trailer below: