Here on land, we humans use loofahs, lotions and body rubs to manage skin problems. Under the waves, some dolphins may also have a skin treatment regimen. Researchers have studied why some Indo-Pacific dolphins rub in certain corals and appear to be used to treat skin conditions.

Wildlife biologist Angela Ziltener of the University of Zurich is watching dolphins rubbing in specific corals in the North Red Sea near Egypt. Her first observations date back 13 years. “I hadn’t seen this coral rubbing behavior described before, and it was clear that the dolphins knew exactly which coral they wanted to use.” she said in a statement Thursday.

IN University of Zurich shared a video of dolphins visiting their underwater skin “clinic”.

Ziltener is the co-author of a a study on dolphin behavior published in the journal iScence this week. He combines the observations of dolphins with the study of the properties of the specific corals they use.

Ziltener used his diving skills to get closer to the dolphin’s pod and test the corals with which the animals made intentional contact. The research team found “17 active metabolites with antibacterial, antioxidant, hormonal and toxic activity” in mucus released from coral and sea sponge in contact with dolphins. “This discovery of these bioactive compounds led the team to believe that the mucus from corals and fungi serves to regulate the dolphin’s skin microbiome and treat infections,” the university said.

Reefs are an important habitat for dolphins. Ziltener described them as bedrooms and playgrounds. Observations show that dolphins often rub corals between naps. “It’s almost like bathing, cleaning up before going to sleep or getting up for the day,” Ziltener said.

Researchers want to know more about which corals dolphins use for which diseases or parts of the body. The possibility of continuing this study depends in part on the fact that dolphin populations remain safe and are not harassed by human tourists. Conservation group Dolphin Watch Alliancefounded by Ziltener, works to teach divers how to interact with respect for marine animals.

Together with rich social life, complex languages and a love SpongeBob SquarePantsskin care routines seem to be another thing dolphins and humans have in common.

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