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April 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 43, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Dolphins Getting High?

from the April, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

It's well known that dolphins like to play games with things like bits of seaweed, but researchers have observed a pod passing around a puffer fish to one another with their flippers. When provoked, the particular species of puffer fish emits a nerve toxin called tetrodotoxin, which can be lethal to humans. However, scientists speculate that not only can dolphins withstand small doses, but also, they can experience a narcotic effect -- in other words, get high. Typically, during these play sessions, they leave the puffer fish alive, maybe to ensure the effect lasts longer.

Murdoch University (Perth, Australia) researcher Krista Nicholson monitors the activity of dolphins living in Australia's coastal waters. She says that she has seen similar behavior of dolphins getting high, and there are more examples across the globe. A BBC documentary, "Dolphins - Spy in the Pod," captured footage of dolphins engaging in this strange activity in 2014. Some dispute the theory, claiming they only manipulate the puffer fish to get a numbing sensation from the toxin. (Source: AOL News)

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