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Red Sea dolphins slather their skin in coral mucus, because nature is wonderfully gross

Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins take their skin care seriously — in fact, the marine mammals medicate their skin by rubbing up against certain types of corals and sponges, which produce compounds that may help guard the dolphins’ skin against infection.

Scientists first saw these dolphins scraping their slippery skin against corals about 13 years ago, in the Red Sea off the coast of Egypt. It was then that a team of researchers — including Angela Ziltener, a wildlife biologist at the University of Zurich — spotted the dolphins gliding toward and nuzzling against a bush-like coral species known as gorgonian coral (Rumphella aggregata). 

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