Scientists were recently shocked to discover that dolphins are doing something distinctly human: hanging out and getting high.

Dolphins, thought to be one of the most intelligent species on Earth, have discovered that the neurotoxins released by puffer fish, while fatal in large doses, can be used as a narcotic at just the right amount.

In a new documentary, young dolphins can be seen carefully manipulating a puffer fish until it – as a defense mechanism – releases its nerve toxin. After carefully chewing on the puffer and passing it to one another (hey, you can’t bogart the puffer fish!), the animals then enter what looks like a “trance-like state.”

(Possibly stoned) dolphin chewing on a puffer fish.

(Possibly stoned) dolphin chewing on a puffer fish.

What’s remarkable is how familiar the situation sounds. Replace “puffer fish” with “bong,” “dolphin” with “college student,” and “ocean” with “dorm room,” and you’ve just described every college campus on the planet.

Even how the dolphins occupy themselves once high sounds awfully close to humans:

Rob Pilley, a zoologist who also worked as a producer on the series, told the Sunday Times: “This was a case of young dolphins purposely experimenting with something we know to be intoxicating.

“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.” [source]

The footage was captured by the makers of Dolphins: Spy in the Pod, a series produced for BBC One by award-winning wildlife documentary producer John Downer. He used fake turtles, fish, and squid to film nearly 900 hours of footage of dolphins hunting, socializing, and yes, getting high.

Downer said: “The spy creatures were designed to infiltrate the dolphins’ hidden lives by looking like the marine creatures a dolphin might encounter in their everyday lives.”

The episode which features the puffer fish will run on Thursday for those inclined to check it out.

This behavior, while humorous, is also a reminder of just how similar our marine mammal cousins are to us.

Check out the trailer for the series below:



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I let my curiosity take me for a walk. My job is to describe what I find under the rocks.