Bending the mind: Fish that causes hallucinations is netted in English Channel

By chillinwill · May 14, 2009 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    A fish that can trigger LSD-like hallucinations when eaten has been discovered in UK waters.

    The sarpa salpa species of bream is normally found in the Mediterranean and around South Africa.

    But fisherman Andy Giles has told how he hauled a sarpa salpa, instantly recognisable by its gold stripes, near Polperro, Cornwall.

    Mr Giles, 38, said: 'We were trawling for lemon sole and hauled it up at the end of the day. After taking a photograph, I put it in the fish box and brought it back for experts.

    'Perhaps I should have taken it into town to sell to some clubbers!'

    There have only been three recordings of sarpa salpa in British waters before.

    Experts say they may be being lured north by warmer waters.

    Marine biologist James Wright said: 'It could be a single fish shoaling with a different species but it could be there are more in our seas.'

    Sarpa salpa are served in Mediterranean restaurants - but if the head is eaten hallucinations, caused by plankton the fish eats, can last days.

    In 2006, two men, one aged 90, suffered hallucinations and nightmares for days after eating sarpa salpa in southern France.

    By Daily Mail Reporter
    Last updated at 9:58 AM on 14th May 2009
    Daily Mail

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  1. TheMainException
    Dude...that's really intense....hallucinations for DAYS? Yikes. Sounds like a scary sort of thing that I wouldn't want to volunteer for.
  2. papel
    SWIM would like just a small bit t feel how it is :p

    papel added 0 Minutes and 31 Seconds later...

    SWIM has tried the Frog and was freaking cool.
  3. Potter
    Here's a link to the only thread we've got on the subject of potent animals. Seems results are pretty mixed, abject terror isn't uncommon but there is some evidence that these fish were used recreationally in Roman times. Still I can't shake the feeling I've read somewhere that potent fish may also cause food poisoning symptoms too, but for the life of me I can't remember where I saw this.
  4. Euphoric

    Men hallucinate after eating fish
    [​IMG]Sarpa salpa: Picture kindly supplied by David Koutsogiannopoulos
    Two men have suffered terrifying visual and auditory hallucinations after eating a popular local seafish in Mediterranean restaurants.

    According to a clinical study on the patients, which is due to be published in the journal Clinical Toxicology, the men started seeing and hearing things after contracting a rare form of hallucinogenic poisoning from the Salema fish they were dining on.

    The species is a popular food fish and is not normally hallucinogenic.

    Ichthyoallyeinotoxism, or hallucinogenic fish poisoning, is caused by eating the heads or body parts of certain species of herbivorous fish and has previously only been recorded from the Indo Pacific.

    The effects of eating ichthyoallyeinotoxic fishes, such as certain mullet, goatfish, tangs, damsels and rabbitfish, are believed to be similar to LSD, and may include vivid and terrifying auditory and visual hallucinations. This has given rise to the collective common name for ichthyoallyeinotoxic fishes of "dream fish".

    Pommier and de Haro of the Toxicovigilance Centre Antipoison at Marseille's Hospital Salvator, who undertook the study, said that the men had both eaten a fish called Sarpa salpa, and subsequently suffered from CNS disturbances including terrifying hallucinations and nightmares.

    One of the men, a 40-year old, was admitted to hospital suffering from a digestive problem and frightening visual and auditory hallucinations, which took 36 hours to disappear. The second man, a 90-year old, suffered from auditory hallucinations a couple of hours after eating the same species of fish, followed by a series of nightmares over the next two nights.

    The poisoning can start to cause vivid hallucinations within minutes of eating a poisonous fish and may last for days, often with no other effects. There is no antidote.

    Indoles, with similar chemical effects to LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) are believed to be responsible and may be consumed when the fish eat algae or phytoplankton containing the chemicals. All of the species effected by ichthyoallyeinotoxism are algal grazers.

    Others have claimed that different species of ichthyoallyeinotoxic fishes, such as Kyphosus fuseus, contain much more potent hallucinogens, such as dimethyltryptamine or DMT, which is considered to be one of the world's most mind-bending hallucinogenic chemicals.

    Sarpa salpa
    The fish consumed by the men was a member of the Sparidae family and is commonly known as the Salema porgy.

    The fish reaches a size of around 50cm/20" and occurs through much of the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. You can view the distribution of Sarpa salpa on Practical Fishkeeping's Fish Mapper.

    According to the paper, Sarpa salpa was consumed as a recreational drug in the Med during the Roman Empire.

    For more details on the hallucinatory fish poisonings see the paper: de Haro L, Pommier P (2006) - Hallucinatory fish poisoning (ichthyoallyeinotoxism): two case reports from the Western Mediterranean and literature review. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2006;44(2):185-8.
  5. podge
    Can anybody find any definitive info on what chemicals are actually causing these experiences?
  6. Frond
    Not a chemist, but...

    The chemical claims in the article seem pretty ridiculous to me. DMT can't be responsible for the effects since DMT is inactive orally without MAOIs (or RIMAs). If MAOIs are present in the fish then we probably would have a lot of reports on MAOI/drug and food interaction problems from eating said fish, and it very likely would have been considered poisonous.

    It's probably not LSD given how unstable LSD is from temperature, humidity, and light, though it could be LSA/LSH or something similar.

    Personally, I suspect scopolamines. That's far more likely to produce hallucinations that last for days, and that makes this little fish quite dangerous actually. I wouldn't want scopolamines anywhere near my central nervous system.
  7. nibble
    Just to add, I don't believe this fish is hallucinogenic exactly, as in it probably does not contain any active drug that binds with a receptor site causing hallucinations in the manner a tryptamine, phenethlyamine or ergoline would. Rather it is poising due to some toxic compound within the fish that induces these "hallucinations" in the manner that a bad viral infection might due to high fever and other associated complications. I'd imagine that anybody that has ingested hallucinogenic drugs and subsequently ingested this fish would find the effects rather distinct, the lasting for severla days seems more in line with a poisining then a drug interaction. No evidence to support that but there doesn't seem to be any evidence to support the other side either..
  8. EscapeDummy
    One reason those who ingest hallucinogenic animals experience abject terror sometimes could be that they unknowingly take the drug. Imagine if someone slipped you LSD; you wouldn't know if you were going crazy, or if you were going to be tripping hallucinating forever, or just WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO YOU. That state of mind will obviously cause a bad trip.
  9. Mr Jykill
    nice to know a fish supper that makes you feel like u dropped a trip or somewhere along them lines ride it out or enjoy ( if its there in front of you ) what a choice
  10. MasterG
    Didn't this happen to Hoffman before he decided to just give into the trip on his famous bicycle ride day. There is also the chance that they consumed far too much which also could have induced a bad trip. However I believe that most anyone would freak out if they just randomly started tripping.
  11. phree.radikal
    Don't you really love how people who've obviously never taken the psychoactive substances others take for granted lump them all together in one big group... i.e. the term "narcotics," or in this case, hallucinogens. SO together they're all assumed to be terror-inducing... swim remembers b4 ever taking lsd and believing (and kinda hoping) that swim would see monsters coming out of the fabric of space. That never happened, tho.

    LSA is certainly not LSD. Never done Datura and stay away from those big flowers by the side of the road. LSA (hawaiian baby woodrose seeds) will not be touched again by swim unless it's to convert it to something else ;)

    From the second article, "may include vivid and terrifying auditory and visual hallucinations."

    Certain substances are more likely to go positive or negative, depending on the receptors they prefer and their action, agonist or antagonist, and their localization in the nervous system. LSD, not so much, because of the euphoric/serotonin-related link. However, the most recent time swim got freaked out on LSD was when a dosage was surprisingly large and some reduction in motor coordination was evident. Not to mention, swim has to deal with swim's own shit. :)

  12. DKMAN86
    eat one of those fish heads and go to burning man! yay!
  13. lulz
    Time for a DF fishing trip?
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