Unusual catch: Hallucinogenic fish

A certain species of bream, which is normally only found in mediterranean and South African waters, was recently discovered in the nets of a British fisherman, in the English Channel.

While ‘sarpa salpa’ is a popular fish food, it has also been reported to cause ichthyoallyeinotoxism, or hallucinogenic fish poisoning. This happened in 2006, when two men had to be hospitalized after eating seafish in mediterranean restaurants. They suffered from "terrifying" hallucinations and nightmares, which lasted for days.

According to some, certain indoles (psilocybin and LSD are indole alkaloids, too) are responsible in the case of fish eating algae or phytoplankton containing these chemicals. Other experts claim that some ichthyoallyeinotoxic fish species contain DMT.

In a paper on the subject of hallucinatory fish poisonings the authors say Sarpa Salpa was consumed as a recreational drug in the Mediterranean during the Roman Empire, and Polynesian tribes used it for ceremonies.

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