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[flagged] Dolphins apparently getting 'high' with the help of toxic puffer fish (2013) (dailymail.co.uk)
88 points by maxerickson 35 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 34 comments

One thing to note here - the Daily Mail has been banned from Wikipedia due to its "reputation for poor fact checking and sensationalism." [0] Seems there may be a study behind the headline at least, but be aware that it's a terrible newspaper.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/08/wikipedia...

I just followed that link on a Chromebook without any adblocker installed. I count 4 huge ads that take up about 75% of the screen real estate. The two sidebar ads regenerate new ads probably as fast as newbies respawn in a first-person shooter.

Thanks to that and an auto-playing video, CPU usage is up so high I can't even scroll in the small area that remains for the content. It's nearly impossible to successfully read the content for the jank and the distraction from ad respawns on that page. This is a computer which can still play video smoothly on Youtube. (Ignoring for the moment the problem of time-stealing ads on Youtube.)

It's better to flag the article.

> But it seems they share some worrying vices as well.

Is this meant serious or ironical. I hope the latter I fear it's the former.

> At one point the dolphins are seen floating just underneath the water's surface, apparently mesmerised by their own reflections.

An animal that seeks intentionally a consciousness-expanding experience must be conscious on a higher level. Evolutionarily such behavior mostly handicaps the ability to defend - so it must be addressing a psychological desire.

Strictly speaking there's no evidence of any consciousness apart from your own. You can't even prove other humans to be conscious.

That doesn't necessarily follow: it may occur as a result of adaptation for another, more beneficial behavior.

Like in humans?

Imagine how beautiful a liquid mirror covering the top of the known universe

I spammed my friends when I tried to copy & paste title from the web page. It seems when I copy I actually get some extra spammy content to my clipboard. In my opinion this is also toxic.

In Firefox you can go to about:config and toggle 'dom.event.clipboardevents.enabled' to false to prevent sites from doing this.

Thank you!! :-D

...did you not read the contents of your pasted message before hitting send?

I agree this is annoying but I don't think it quite rises to the level of "toxic".

If you use a CLI IM application, like an IRC client, you're toasted. I've been bit by this. The real question is why are websites allowed to manipulate what I copy into my clipboard. Imagine if, instead of adding some spam to the text, they slightly changed what the text says.

Discover Magazine has its doubts:


Tetrodotoxin (TTX) doesn't make sense as a narcotic:

> Tetrodotoxin simply doesn’t make sense as a drug (and let’s be honest—if it did, humans would be snorting it off bathroom counters already). In very, very, very low doses, tetrodotoxin causes numbness, tingling, and the slight lightheadedness that fugu, the Japanese preparation of raw pufferfish flesh, is known for. I guess it’s possible to see how one might relate these mild effects to the “high” feeling that comes from THC, the main ingredient in marijuana*, but it’s a stretch to say the least. Every illicit drug has one thing in common: they alter minds. It’s right there in the definition of narcotic. Tetrodotoxin, however, doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier; it doesn’t change perception or enhance sensation. People get poisoned with TTX every year, and there’s a reason you don’t hear anyone describing the experience as a ‘high’: that’s not how tetrodotoxin works.

It’s a good thing people are looking at it from a pharmacological perspective.


> In very, very, very low doses, tetrodotoxin causes numbness, tingling, and the slight lightheadedness that fugu, the Japanese preparation of raw pufferfish flesh, is known for.

> Tetrodotoxin, however, doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier; it doesn’t change perception or enhance sensation

How is “numbness and light headedness” not “changing perception”?

And how do we know that dolphins do not experience the “numbness and light headedness” that humans do as a pleasant/euphoric/etc sensation?

Seems a little light of a rebuttal.

The article is also hilarious for qualifying purported dolphin use as “illicit drug use”. I knew about bird law, but not dolphin law :)

Dolphins have sonar organs. Perhaps TTX effects those organs in ways we don't fully understand, and this has a mind-altering effect .. in the same way that using light-stimulus can induce altered mind states, perhaps nerve-numbing of sonar-nerves does the same.

We won't know until we talk to them. We must learn how to talk to them.

I get “high” on chillies. The capsaicin numbs my lips and mouth, the “heat” overwhelms most other senses (even my tinnitus changes pitch) and stops me feeling a certain amount of pain. The resulting mental state is basically selective sensory deprivation. So I feel I have some understanding of what the dolphins are feeling. It really is a blissful state, especially if you happen to be bored or the world is getting you down today.

Gah.. they're citing the daily news which has a lot of tabloid quality articles.

It's a write up of a BBC One documentary:


...which has been on Netflix for a few years.

Ah... needs a "[2013]" in the title.

[checks the score of other mammals]

LaPorte man arrested, accused of licking toad in restaurant parking lot https://www.wndu.com/home/headlines/LaPorte-man-arrested-acc...

> But it seems [dolphins] share some worrying vices as well.

It's interesting how the author construes it as a "vice" by the second paragraph. That's a very Anglo-Saxon take on it (i.e. I doubt a Japanese or Brazilian journalist would have interpreted it so harshly from the get go).

In fact, getting inebriated seems pretty common in the animal kingdom, making it not much more of a vice than mating, napping, or eating tasty food:


I'd even argue that seeking to alter your state of mind comes with the territory of well, having a mind. Why else would people like roller coasters, movies, video games, coffee, etc. so much?

Exactly. They’re kindred spirits, our porpoise-ful friends. First sex, then drugs, now we just need rock&roll.

I wonder if anyone has ever studied their reaction to human musical compositions? All I can find are articles concerned about the impact of sonar and ship noise, but as a purely intellectual pursuit would they enjoy Motzart? Drum and Bass? God help us... Ke$ha?!

Since dolphins hear so differently than humans, we'd probably have to transcribe (translate?) it to a version more suitable for them. Also with the much wider hearing range they are more sensitive to sounds and, I'm assuming, would not enjoy our narrower range of music. It would be very fascinating to study.

are they capable of metabolising the toxin ?

Sort of, and humans sort of can too. The only metabolite of TTX I’m aware of is just the oxidized form. Primarily though it’s excreted “whole” through urine. It actually doesn’t matter if dolphins can metabolize it any better than humans if they’re getting a low dose per kg. Humans eat puffer fish for the same reason, the residual toxin in the flesh gets you a little high. As long as it’s a non-lethal dose, you excrete it (primarily in urine).

It’s also a potent analgesic at low doses, so maybe they do it primarily for the buzz, or to relieve aches and pains.

Probably written by GP2.

So that's why Dolphin crashes under OpenBSD by not having enough free RAM?

[2013] (article is from 30 Dec 2013)

Thanks! We've also updated the link from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/dolphins-seem-to-u..., which points to this.

Neither are good sources. The Smithsonian Mag article is blogspam and Daily Mail is a tabloid.

We'll gladly update the link if someone can suggest a better one.

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