Bottlenose dolphins seem to hunt out sure corals and sponges that produce compounds with antibacterial or hormone-like properties
19 Could 2022
Dolphins could also be treating their very own wounds and infections by rubbing themselves towards corals and sea sponges which have antibacterial properties.
Many marine mammals, resembling orcas and beluga whales, rub their our bodies towards underwater supplies like sand, pebbles or limestone, maybe to assist shed the outer layers of their pores and skin in the summertime. However comparable behaviour has been much less effectively studied in dolphins.
Angela Ziltener on the College of Zurich, Switzerland, and her colleagues filmed Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) within the Crimson Sea off Egypt queueing as much as rub towards particular corals and sea sponges.
They seen that the dolphins would repeatedly rub sure physique elements on the corals and sponges and that a number of the corals launched mucus because the dolphins swam previous, so that they suspected the animals is perhaps self-medicating.
“They all the time come again to the identical organism and they’re actually rubbing totally different physique elements on them,” says Ziltener. “It’s not noticed in sand or in seagrass, for instance; it’s a special behaviour. [They’re] queueing up and ready for his or her flip.”
The researchers took samples of gorgonian coral (Rumphella aggregata), leather-based coral (Sarcophyton sp.) and a sea sponge (Ircinia sp.), then analysed them utilizing a high-resolution spectrometer within the lab to determine chemical substances within the samples. They discovered 17 bioactive compounds with antibacterial, antioxidant or hormone-like properties.
Ziltener and her staff assume the dolphins might search out these particular corals and sponges to assist maintain their pores and skin wholesome and maybe deal with bacterial infections. Nevertheless, we will’t but be certain whether or not the behaviour has a medicinal goal.
Jason Bruck at Stephen F. Austin State College in Texas suggests the following step must be to look extra carefully on the dolphins’ behaviour to see whether or not they are surely selective about which physique elements they rub on which supplies.
“I additionally would encourage work how these compounds have an effect on the very distinctive pores and skin construction of dolphins,” he says. “Dolphins change their outermost pores and skin layer, at most, each two hours – a charge 9 instances sooner than that of people. This distinctive dermal anatomy and physiology means we can’t assume the medicinal results of the corals could be the identical for dolphins as they’d be for us.”
Journal reference: iScience, DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.104271
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