By ALEX WARD
Dolphins have been filmed for the first time chewing on toxic puffer fish, which when digested in small doses can have a ‘narcotic-like effect’.
The mammals, known for their intelligence, were filmed by remote control cameras disguised as sea animals going into a trance-like state after gently handling the toxic fish.
The footage is part of the BBC series Dolphins: Spy in the Pod by wildlife filmmaker John Downer, captured by one of the underwater cameramen.
Zoologist and series producer Rob Pilley said that it was the first time dolphins had been filmed behaving this way. The dolphins are seen deliberately but gently playing with the puffer fish, a creature known to be intoxicating, passing it between each other for 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
He said: 'We saw the dolphins handle the puffers with "kid gloves," very gently and delicately like they were almost milking them to not upset the fish too much or kill it.
'As a result the fish released various toxins as a defence. The dolphins then seemed to be memorised and hung there up near the surface of the water.'
Mr Pilley said that the dolphins treated the puffer fish very differently to their normal prey which they normally torn apart.
He said: 'The dolphins were specifically going for the puffers and deliberately handling them with care. Dolphins seem to be experts on how to prepare puffers and how to handle them.'
Other animals such as Black Lemurs have been known to do something similar with giant millipedes which secrete toxins such as cyanide, playing with the insects and rubbing their toxins all over their bodies.
In Australia, dogs have become addicted to the toxins secreted by cane toads after licking their backs. Vets warned that ingesting too much of the toxins could be fatal for pets.