According to The Guardian, a recent study shows that dolphins may treat their skin illnesses with coral. The study, which investigated the medicinal properties of coral, shows that dolphins may use the substances released by the marine invertebrates to treat skin conditions.
As they rub their bellies or their backs on them, corals discharge a kind of mucus that is believed to have healing properties. Dolphins have strong skin, but due to global warming, they are affected more and more by various skin problems like yeast infections, bacterial infections and different type of injuries cause by pox infections. For this reason, researchers believe their behavior might be related to these affections and the effect corals have on them.
Since 2009, a team of wildlife biologists from the University of Zurich in Switzerland have been observing a group of 360 dolphins from the Tursiops aduncus species, also known as Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins. The most striking observation they made was that dolphins would wait in line to rub against corals after waking up and before going to sleep, resembling a dolphin shower routine. At the same time, researchers noticed that dolphins had the tendency to use the same type of coral for a certain body part.
As a result, they began investigating 48 types of corals that they identified in the routine of the dolphins. In this way, they found more than 17 metabolic molecules (also known as metabolites), with characteristics and effects considered beneficial in the treatment of the skin. Researchers explained that the identified metabolites are useful in the case of an infection and that they can have a healing effect.
While previous studies revealed that dolphins use corals as tools for foraging, researchers believe that it is very possible for their use to also extended to health purposes. The connection between corals and their medicinal effects may be proven if scientists manage to show that the corals avoided by the dolphins don’t have medicinal characteristics.