An upcoming BBC documentary will show how some dolphins chew on pufferfish to get high.
The documentary shows how dolphins – one of the most intelligent animals on Earth – deliberately chew on puffers to get high.
Filmmakers discovered the fascinating behavior while gathering footage for Dolphins: A Spy in the Pod, a documentary which will air Thursday evening on the BBC.
The never-before-seen footage shows groups of juvenile and adult male dolphins passing around pufferfish, which contain a nerve toxin that in small doses produces a narcotic effect. The dolphins have figured out a way to gently chew on pufferfish, without killing them, just long enough for the fish to release a small dose of its toxin. Once ingested, the toxin produces a trance-like effect in the dolphins.
“After chewing the puffer gently and passing it round, they began acting peculiary, hanging around with their noses at the surface as if fascinated by their own reflection,” said Rob Pilley, a zoologist who helped produce the program.
Here’s some video footage, not from the film, but of dolphins toying with a pufferfish:
To capture the upcoming documentary’s remarkable footage, filmmakers used decoy fish, turtles and squids equipped with cameras.
Take a look at some more rare marine wildlife footage of bonefish near the Bahamas.