I think most people would agree that I’m woke. I read VICE, subscribe to Joe Rogan’s podcast, listen to Run The Jewels, and used to rollerblade aggressively. But being woke doesn’t mean that you are aware of everything that’s really going on around you. That’s a common misconception.
Needless to say, when I found out that there’s a merry band of dolphins off the coast of Australia that cope with the perils of being one of the most dangerous creatures on earth by passing around blowfish to get high, I had to set my cold brew coffee down. I knew those self-aware little boners were up to something. And can I just say that I don’t want to live in a world where VICE isn’t slinging out the hottest headlines in the game?
“Apparently Dolphins in Australia Like to Get Stoned by Chewing on Toxic Blowfish”? Are you kidding me? Everybody’s clicking that.
Krista Nicholson, a researcher at Murdoch University who monitors dolphins just south of Perth, noted that the juveniles like to hold puffer fish—known in Australia as “blowies”—in their mouths for a few hours then pass them around because apparently it produces a narcotic effect. Blowfish contain a toxin called tetrodotoxin, which is extremely lethal in humans. However, scientists believe that small doses can put dolphins into a trance-like state.
The phenomenon isn’t unheard of. Marine biologist Lisa Steiner noted the observation back in a 1995 paper about bottle-nosed dolphins off the coast of Portugal. The 2014 BBC documentary, Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, is credited for first filming the behavior on camera.
“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, told the Sunday Times before the documentary’s 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.”
I could look at dolphins all day. They’ve taken a PR hit over the last few years because a few bad apples decided to aggressively dry hump a few humans, but other than the raping, I support dolphins in all of their ventures. Now that I know they’re out there coping with the day-to-day grind by entering a trance-like state to fin-bump their dolphin god? They’ve entered my official Top 5 All Animal Team. Take a load off, dolphin. You swam your little heart out today.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that, like any drug, blowfish should be enjoyed by our underwater allies responsibly. And as our good friends at VICE noted, blowfish contain toxins that are deadly to humans. Any thought you had about hitting blowies and then joining up with your local ragtag dolphin pod, just stop right there. But seriously, if you or any dolphin that you know has a blowfish problem, please get help..
Image via South Park