Dolphins treat skin diseases with coral reef mucus

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Dolphins treat skin diseases with coral reef mucus

The discovery was made by a Swiss researcher who conducted studies off the coast of Egypt.

Dolphins treat skin diseases with coral reef mucus

Redness that occurs on the skin is treated with ointments and drugs prescribed by doctors. Of course, this applies to people. Indo-Pacific dolphins, on the other hand, treat skin diseases by rubbing their skin against coral reefs.

In a study published yesterday in the journal i-Science by Cell Press Publishing House, researchers showed that these corals have medicinal properties and that dolphins use them to treat skin diseases.

Angela Zeltner, a wildlife biologist and co-author of the study from the University of Zurich in Switzerland, observed this behavior in dolphins 13 years ago. Zeltner and his team found that dolphins living off the coast of Egypt in the northern Red Sea, while rubbing against coral reefs, were very picky about the reefs they came into contact with, and wondered why.

Speaking to Sarku’l Avsat, Zeltner said, “I have never seen coral rubbed so much before. It was clear that the dolphins knew exactly which corals they wanted to use. I thought there must be a reason for that.”

In Florida and the Caribbean, dolphins have also been reported to come into contact with corals and sponges. But the number of these observations is quite small. Because probably most of the research was based on boat research. Because it is very difficult to observe whales and dolphins underwater by diving. Zeltner said:

“But because I love diving, I was able to study dolphins closely in the Red Sea region of Egypt. Here I was able to identify and sample coral reefs where dolphins rub. We discovered that dolphins make frequent contact with coral reefs to stimulate the small invertebrates that make up the coral community, and that these invertebrates secrete mucus. We collected samples to understand the properties of mucus.”

Zeltner sent his samples to co-author Gertrud Morlock, an analytical chemist and food scientist at Justus Liebig University Giesen in Germany, for examination. As a result of the examination, 17 active compounds with antibacterial, antioxidant and detoxifying properties were found in their contents.

The discovery of the bioactive compounds in question convinced the team that coral mucus regulates the dolphin’s skin microbiome and treats infections.

Morlock made the following statement to Sharqu’l Awsat:

“Repeated friction allows active metabolites to come into contact with the dolphins’ skin, and these compounds can help restore skin balance and be useful for prevention or additional treatment against microbial infections.”

Morlock also said the following about the possibility of using these compounds to treat people:

“That may be possible, but more work is needed. But before that, we must not threaten coral reefs and protect them as a useful resource for dolphins and prevent them from being exploited by humans.”


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