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A study suggests that dolphins use coral to treat skin problems

by Shailee Mishra

Date & Time: May 21, 2022 1:00 PM

Read Time: 2 minute



Highlights:

• Some dolphins with skin conditions 'rub against medicinal coral.'
• According to research, they are picky about which coral they use to self-medicate with.
• Experts were able to dive down with a pod to identify corals
• Dolphins rubbed on coral mucus is ‘regulating dolphin skin's microbiome and treating infections'

New video shows dolphins queuing to be treated for skin ailments at coral reef "clinics," a behavior that researchers say is analogous to humans showering after getting out problem

A new study describes how the intelligent mammals line up nose-to-tail to scratch themselves against the outcroppings.
After observing dolphins forming an orderly queue to rub against coral, experts discovered that some dolphins with skin ailments use an ingenious solution to self-medicate.According to the study, the animals are selective in their search for a specific type of coral with medicinal properties in the mucus it produces.

Angela Ziltener, a wildlife biologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, first noticed the dolphins rubbing against coral in the northern Red Sea off the coast of Egypt 13 years ago. ‘I’d never heard of this coral rubbing behavior before, and it was clear that the dolphins knew exactly which coral they wanted to use,' she said.

Dolphins can identify their peers by tasting their URINE

Dolphins can recognize each other by tasting their urine, similar to how dogs sniff urine left by other dogs, according to a new study. Dolphins in experiments showed signs of recognition when they tasted the urine of another dolphin they'd already met. Dolphins lack olfactory bulbs, so they must use taste to determine which other dolphins have been in the area, according to researchers. It is thought that lipid molecules found in urine allow dolphins to recognize the individual chemical signatures of their friends.

When sea temperatures rise, coral expel tiny marine algae, causing them to turn white

Corals have a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae, which are tiny marine algae that live inside and nourish corals. Corals expel the colorful algae when sea surface temperatures rise. Because of the loss of algae, they bleach and turn white. While corals can recover if the temperature drops and the algae returns, severely bleached corals die and become covered by algae.

In either case, satellite images make it difficult to distinguish between healthy and dead corals. In some areas of the Great Barrier Reef, bleaching has recently killed up to 80% of the corals. Bleaching events of this type occur four times more frequently than they used to.

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