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Hooked on puffer fish

Dolphins are known to be one of the most intelligent creatures in the world and some of them also crave for recreational “high” at times.

 And they do this by seeking out puffer fish, catching them in their mouths and swimming around with them. Normally, whenever the puffer fish senses trouble, it balloons and releases a neurotoxic chemical that can kill even in small doses.

However, an amazing discovery revealed that these small doses taken in by dolphins are not enough to inflict a fatal effect but can only make them incredibly high.

These marine mammals have figured out how to get a sufficient amount of the chemical to feel the narcotic-like effect it produces without acquiring any injury.

While making a documentary on these creatures, Emmy award-winning filmmaker John Downer noticed that they would carefully chew on a puffer fish and pass it on to another dolphin.

After observing that the dolphins were all looking dazed and very tranquil after chewing on the puffer fish, Downer knew the creatures were “high” on the toxin absorbed.

As if to quell all doubts, this thought was further instigated after seeing the ensuing behavior of the dolphins:

spending a lot of time with their noses on the water’s surface as if observing and being fascinated by their own reflection.

Ordinarily, dolphins would not be comfortable around people to the point of displaying this type of behavior. But Downer’s crew used special spy cameras designed to infiltrate the hidden lives of these marine mammals.

Cameras were placed inside a fake fish for underwater shots. Above water shots were made with cameras in the form of a sea turtle. All this made the dolphins feel relaxed in the comfort of their own natural habitat.

Over the years, dolphins have been known for being cheerful and friendly as shown in the popular TV series “Flipper”.

Their intelligence in providing entertainment makes them a favorite in amusement shows.

But if you see a pod of dolphins in a trance-like state, all looking up the sky with a peculiar smile on their faces, no need to worry. It may truly be an extraordinary sight to behold but they’re just hooked on puffer fish.

And what of poor mister puffer that appears as a mere plaything in all this? It cannot do anything except wait until its eventual release.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/ (Robert B. Roque, Jr.)

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