Wildlife series shows dolphins getting their "high"

Dolphins high-ranking intelligence in the animal kingdom has enabled them to understand how to get a ‘high’ just like humans, experts now believe.

Dolphins like to use a substance which gives them the equivalent of a 'high', a new BBC series has found.

Dolphins like to use a substance which gives them the equivalent of a 'high', a new BBC series has found. Image by Steven Straiton / CC BY 2.0

A new documentary shows how young dolphins manipulated a certain kind of puffer fish so that it releases a nerve toxin. While large amounts of the toxin is lethal, it produces a narcotic effect when released in small doses, the extent of which the dolphins appear to know.

The London Independent reports that the marine mammals carefully chewed on the puffer among themselves and appeared to enter into what appeared to be a trance-like state. The makers of 'Dolphins: Spy in the Pod', for the BBC capture this behaviour under the direction of John Downer, an award winning wildlife producer.

Zoolologist Rob Pilley, was also a producer on the series and he told the Sunday Times that the evidence was these young dolphins were experimenting on purpose with this intoxicating material. He said the ‘high’ saw them acting most peculiarly as they hung around with their noses above the surface. “It was a most extraordinary thing to see,” he stressed.

The documentary got such amazing footage by using spy cameras hidden in fake turtles, fish and squid. In this way, they were able to capture over 900 hours of film showing the mammals living in their natural habitats. The puffer fish feature will be shown during the second episode of the series, which begins this Thursday. Downer said they wanted to infiltrate the hidden lives of dolphins by see them behave in their everyday lives.

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