How does one say “BLAZE IT 420” in dolphin? A new documentary from the BBC, soon to be ruined by Oprah Winfrey overdubbing the original narration, shows Flipper and pals chasing the dragon1. Rather than toking up some dank in an octopus’s garden, dolphins harass puffer fish that exude mind-altering chemicals as a defense.
This discovery sheds new light on previously observed behavior2 of dolphins playing with pufferfish. Back in 2001, thirty five dolphins were found dead off Titusville, near the Pineda Causeway and two of the beasts had pufferfish in their stomachs3. Whether saxitoxin, tetrodotoxin, or another compound remains to be seen. Keep in mind, saxitoxin is a hardcore poison, being 1,000 times more powerful than sarin and used by the military4. Tetrodotoxin is no less dangerous, causing numbness, tingling, lethargy, and other bad stuff5 so don’t try this at home unless you’re a dolphin. And if you are a dolphin, get a trip sitter!
Drug use among animals isn’t new. Everyone with a cat knows the joys of plying these ornamental mammals with catnip or verbena. Jaguars require harder stuff for a buzz, preferring ayahuasca. Beasts of every stripe are known to get drunk in Africa, consuming overripe, fermented marula fruit. Capuchin monkeys catch giant African millipedes for their insect-repelling properties6, also sharing them in social situations for the narcotic effects. Down in ‘Straya, dogs are known to lick cane toads for a buzz7. And way up north, reindeer learn they can really fly after scarfing down some Amanita muscaria mushrooms. Bonus, people are known to drink reindeer piss8 for shamanic and recreational purposes.
Popular media passes off these stories as fluffy and cute, but there’s a stronger message here. The conceit that human consciousness is the pinnacle of evolution is based in hubris. With serious inquiry into animal consciousness, humanity may find alien minds are already among us.