Dose the ocean: Sports Illustrated on fishing with LSDS

In 1964, Sports Illustrated ran a piece on scientists experimenting with LSD for commercial fishing applications. Researchers hoped that LSD could both facilitate the removal of invasive carp and dope up commercial fishing populations on a large scale.

From Sports Illustrated correspondent Robert H. Boyle:

Dose the ocean: Sports Illustrated on fishing with LSDS

[...A] pond loaded with carp poses problems. If any of the standard chemicals, such as rotenone, are used, all the fish, both carp and game fish, usually die, aquatic insects suffer and the poison sometimes lingers for months, preventing the restocking of game fish. But if a chemical could cause all the fish to surface for several hours without killing them, then the undesirable fish could be picked out and the game fish left to prosper. Again, a surfacing chemical would enable biologists to take a highly accurate fish census of a body of water without harming a fin. A low-flying plane could photograph a treated body of water, and biologists, interpreting the pictures, could get a count of species and populations.

[Howard Loeb, senior aquatic biologist at the New York State Conservation Department Fish Laboratory,] first began testing with LSD-25, then, with the help of an American pharmaceutical house, Eli Lilly and Co. of Indianapolis, started testing other compounds made from d-lysergic acid. So far Loeb has tested some 40 drugs supplied by Lilly on carp, goldfish, golden and common shiners, blacknose dace, yellow perch, pumpkinseed sun-fish, white suckers, bullheads, brook trout and brown trout. With the exception of the trout and the bullheads-which swim to the surface-the fish pop up to the top of the water, swim backward and often go into a stupor. Goodness knows what kinds of hallucinations carp have-perhaps they dream they are gefilte fish [...]

Much work, of course, remains to be done. The drugs have to be tested on aquatic vegetation, insects and, ultimately, man. It is now impossible to use any of the compounds in the field, because no one knows what would happen to a person who happened to swim in or drink from a treated pond or lake. But the tests are most encouraging and the possibilities unlimited, both for sport and commercial fishing. "What I actually envision is the chemical harvesting of commercial fish," says Loeb. "It's coming. We're going to bring the fish out of the lakes and oceans at our level. Fishing today is still in the hunting stage. Even though the Russians have huge factory ships with radar and all sorts of gear, they are not as efficient as they could be. That still is hunting-and what we want is fish farming. I can see the day," Loeb says with a smile, "when you back your freezer truck up to the dock and the fish just march right out of the water and fillet themselves."

[Spotted on Dose Nation. Top photo from the cult Dreamcast classic Seaman; middle photo from Waterworld.]