Self-Medicating Dolphins

Self-Medicating Dolphins: The relationship between dolphins and corals

Self-Medicating Dolphins: The relationship between dolphins and corals: Off the Egyptian coast, in the northern Red Sea, Indo-Pacific ufabet bottlenose dolphins have set up their own health club. The dolphins depend on the reef for shelter and protection from sharks, but also for their general wellbeing.

Self-Medicating Dolphins

Self-Medicating Dolphins

During their daily ablutions the dolphins rub their bodies on sand, pebbles, seagrass and corals, and the ways in which they use them are not random.

They rub their entire body in sand, seagrass and gorgonian corals, but rub particular body parts on specific corals and sponges. It’s thought they use ufabet leather corals and sponges for the head, underside and tail flukes, while they rub the edges of their pectoral fins on very hard corals.

It is now known that some gorgonian corals (sea fans and sea whips) and certain sponges possess antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, so the dolphins may be using the coral to cleanse themselves, and to keep their skin free from disease and parasites – a form of self-medication.

This highlights why some scientists think coral reefs could become the medicine cabinets of the twenty-first century.

Adult corals, along with the sponges that grow amongst them, are sessile animals fixed firmly to the seabed and, because they cannot run away, they need ufabet chemical defences to protect themselves.

Those chemicals might also protect us. Already, antiviral, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agents have been isolated from sponges on Caribbean reefs. It is extraordinary to think that animals like dolphins may have been exploiting the medicinal properties of corals long before we even thought to look beneath the waves.

These complex behaviours, however, are not confined to large-brained cetaceans.