Watch a Group of Groovy Dolphins Get Stoned on a Pufferfish

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: April 28, 2023
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Key Points:

  • The video documents a group of dolphins passing around a pufferfish for hits of tetrodotoxin with the intention of getting high.
  • Tetrodotoxin is a neurotoxin that can be fatal to humans – and probably dolphins if they ate the pufferfish. They seem to know how to microdose.
  • This video is the first to show recreational drug use among dolphins. Happily, the little pufferfish bong swims away no worse for the ride.

Apparently, dolphins get high. Who knew? Watch as this group of groovy dolphins delicately handle a pufferfish, taking in its poisonous secretions, and enjoying their time together.

What Makes Pufferfish Intoxicating?

The name is tetrodotoxin! This is a neurotoxin that can be potentially fatal for humans. Pufferfish only release this neurotoxin when attacked. They are poisonous and there is a history of human poisoning. However, for dolphins, it’s much more like a narcotic effect. When they take it in small doses, they get high, but they don’t die.

Pufferfish swimming in open water
Pufferfish, the apparent dolphin drug dealer, looks at the camera as if it just got caught.

©Brocken Inaglory / Creative Commons

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Do Dolphins Eat Pufferfish?

Dolphins are careful not to swallow pufferfish. Instead, they hold them at the tip of their mouths, much like they would if they were smoking a marijuana joint. In this clip, you watch a dolphin do exactly that and then release the pufferfish to float to the surface.

The narrator explains this phenomenon as the video continues, showing how the dolphins respond after taking a hit of pufferfish. They fall back, in a bliss-like state, slithering against one another. They seem to huddle together as if they’ve taken a love drug, entranced with their connection.

The narrator continues as the video shows a close-up of a dolphin, comically blissed out, its eyes narrow and its smile wide. You can practically count all of its teeth! The pufferfish continues floating at the surface. The dolphins take turns, getting a little higher with each hit of tetrodotoxin.

The narrator explains that this is the first time they’ve managed to record recreational drug use in dolphins. As the video continues, you can see how they are all behaving in the same way humans do when they take recreational drugs. There seems to be an understanding among them, an enhanced camaraderie, and a bit of daze and confusion.

The pufferfish realizes it completed its accidental mission. The dolphins are in perhaps a parallel universe, and it finally deflates. The threat is over, the dolphins did no harm, and they can continue on their merry way. You watch as it swims away from the group as if it were a drug dealer trying to escape the party unscathed.

“It looks like they will be distracted for quite some time,” says the narrator as the huddle of dolphins continues enjoying their high. They remain close to the surface and close together, feeling whatever kind of warmth and pleasure they get from that tiny little pufferfish.

Watch these blissed-out dolphins pass a pufferfish around like a joint.

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About the Author

Angie is a writer with over 10 years of experience developing content for product and brand reviews, focusing much of her time on animals of all types. A cat owner herself, she enjoys writing articles on beloved pets that both inform and entertain her audience.

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