Sarpa salpa (above) is a type of sea bream found in the Mediterranean as well as in temperate areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It has one unusual quality. Eating it can cause hallucinations. For this reason, it’s sometimes called the “dreamfish.”
People have known about this for a long time. Apparently Sarpa salpa was occasionally eaten for recreational purposes during the Roman Empire.
A 2006 article in the journal Clinical Toxicology describes some medical case reports involving dreamfish consumption. For instance, in 1994 a 40-year-old man on vacation in the French Riviera ate some, and the next day the hallucinations began:
Similarly, in 2002 a 90-year-old retiree ate some sea bream, again in the French Riviera, and experienced hallucinations involving “human screams and bird squealing.”
A case described on Wikipedia seems to have been far more pleasurable. In 1960, National Geographic photographer Joe Roberts purposefully ate some broiled dreamfish: “he experienced intense hallucinations with a science-fiction theme that included futuristic vehicles, images of space exploration, and monuments marking humanity’s first trips into space.”
The authors of the Clinical Toxicology article note that cases of hallucinogenic fish poisoning (ichthyoallyeinotoxism) are often confused with ciguatera poisoning — the latter caused by fish flesh contaminated by “various toxins produced by the benthic dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus.”
Ciguatera can also cause hallucinations. However, it may also kill you, whereas you should recover from the dreamfish hallucinations within 36 hours.
(Thanks to hotsauce269 for letting us know about the dreamfish.)