Most people think of dolphins as a very intelligent creature, and they have put their ingenuity to use as they seek to get ‘high’. In a documentary, young dolphins were filmed chewing on a certain type of puffer fish that releases a powerful nerve toxin when provoked.

Dolphins are considered quite intelligent
Dolphins are considered quite intelligent

In large doses, the fish toxins are lethal. The dolphins chew a little on the puffer fish and then pass it around. The small doses of the toxin have a narcotic-like effect and the dolphins were recorded as entering into a state like of a trance. They started acting peculiarly, appearing to be fascinated by their own reflections as they hung around with their noses at the surface.


The behaviour of the dolphins was captured by the makers of an animal documentary. They were filming for the BBC ‘Dolphins: Spy in the pond’ series by wildlife documentary producer, John Downer. The producer has won several awards for his work with animals. Another worker on the series, a zoologist called Rob Pilley, said the young dolphins were purely and purposely experimenting with a known intoxicating thing.


Producers of the series use spy cameras mounted on various fake sea animals that the dolphins would think are natural to their habitat such as turtles, squid and fish. More than 800 hours of footage were filmed showing dolphins in their natural habitat.

This newly captured phenomenon reminds one of the craze that there was of people licking toads to get high and the way they would hang afterwards in a daze. The high-dolphin scene is very extraordinary to watch.

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In the series, the scenes that show them getting high will be in the second episode. Other long running documentaries of wildlife are Penguins: Spy in the huddle, Elephants: Spy in the herd and Lions: Spy in the den. All are produced by Downer using similar spy camera techniques. Dolphins: Spy in the pond is narrated by David Tennant


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