While it is a standard procedure to conduct research observations based from a boat, conditions in the Red Sea additionally allow underwater research using also scuba diving. A research approach that is not practiced on Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) elsewhere in the world. These allows us observations that would be challenging or even impossible to monitor otherwise.
Through this unique observation method we are able to monitor the so called gorgoning behaviour that have never been reported elsewhere. A dolphin repeatedly approaches a patch of gorgonia and rubs its body into it while rolling on the side, belly up and on the back. We suspect that this behaviour is a cleaning specialization because gorgonia (sea fans or sea whips) are known to possess antibacterial properties.
S. Kleinertz, C. Hermosilla, A. Ziltener, S. Kreicker, J. Hirzmann, F. Abdel-Ghaffar,
A. Taubert (2013): Gastrointestinal parasites of free-living Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in the Northern Red Sea, Egypt. Parasitology Research: PARE-D-13-01114R1. DOI: 10.1007/s00436-014-3781-4
Online Version January 2014