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  • Writer's picturePaul


A pufferfish. Dolphin with the munchies just out of shot (Pixabay)

Puffer fish are weird. I mean, what a defence mechanism to evolve: whenever danger is nearby, you incapacitatingly inflate yourself far beyond your natural size and wait for the problem to resolve itself. Pity the poor X-Man who evolves that.

But luckily that’s not all the puffer fish does. Some species also release a powerful nerve toxin when they puff themselves up. And recently it was discovered that some groups of dolphins have learned how to use these fish and their intoxicating chemicals to—well, get high.

In 2013, researchers working on a BBC nature documentary found that one particular school of dolphins had developed a bit of a habit of tracking down a puffer fish and then toying with it, one by one, so that the fish was provoked into inflating itself. At that point, the dolphins would let the chemical the fish produces drift into their faces, leaving them to float momentarily in a woozy, light-headed stupor, and then pass the fish on to the next dolphin in the group. Eventually, after each one had taking its turn to let the toxin do its work, the entire pod was as high as a kite.

The puffer fish was then left alone to swim away unharmed, while the dolphins presumably ordered a pizza, laughed uncontrollably at the shopping channel, and talked about that funny shaped cloud they saw last week and how much it reminds them how much they love each other.


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