(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists has concluded that dolphins deliberately rub against certain types of coral to fight off a fungal infection. It turns out that these corals have healing properties.
Dolphins are considered to be one of the smartest animals on the planet. For example, they differ in behavior resembling tool activity.
Bottlenose dolphins, for example, often break off pieces of sponges to dig silt with them in search of food. There is strong evidence that some specific sounds (whistles) are used by dolphins to identify or call each other.
In essence, this means that representatives of this family of cetaceans give each other names and remember them.
Other studies have shown that dolphins, along with elephants and hominids (including humans and great apes), are self-aware, that is, aware of themselves as individuals separate from others.
It is not surprising that amazing discoveries often occur in the dolphin world. One of the latter belongs to scientists from the Universities of Justus Liebig Giessen, Stuttgart (Germany) and Zurich (Switzerland), as well as the Red Sea Marine Parks Authority (Egypt). They presented their findings in the journal iScience.
Researchers have observed dolphins rubbing against coral for the first time in the northern Red Sea, off the coast of Egypt.
I must say that most of the studies of these cetaceans are carried out from the surface of the water, but this time the scientists watched the dolphins in the water, plunging to the bottom with them.
And all for good reason: it was possible to notice that animals do not just itch on reefs, but do it selectively – they rub only against certain types of corals. The authors of the work decided to find out the reason for such selectivity.
Scientists collected samples of corals favored by dolphins and, after analyzing their properties, came to the conclusion that when rubbing against them, tiny polyps that secrete a special mucus become excited.
High resolution mass spectrometric analysis showed that corals of Rumphella aggregata, Sarcophyton sp. and sponges Ircinia sp. contain 17 active metabolites with antibacterial, antioxidant, hormonal and toxic properties.
Therefore, scientists have suggested that dolphins rub against corals in order to regulate their skin microbiome. The fact is that these animals, like many others, are prone to fungal diseases, and medicinal corals help in their treatment and prevention.
“Dolphins do pretty much the same thing we do when we take a shower in the mornings and evenings,” said Gertrude Morlock, the first author of the study.
Contact us: [email protected]