Deep Dolphin Doo Doo

Love what you’ve done with the place… but it STANKS!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Home improvements like roof tarring are smelly but necessary. Wait until it’s too hot to do it, and your home will be vulnerable.

Our marine friends are in much the same boat. Rising ocean temperatures disrupt natural nitrogen cycles in coral reefs. These cycles keep them tough against storms and erosion. How can sea creatures patch things up? 

Tom Letessier and team from the Zoological Society of London sniffed around. They studied spinner dolphins in the Maldives to estimate nitrogen deposits. During the day, they hunt in shallow lagoons and get their fill of nitrogen. Later, they explore the deep ocean, and uh… leave something behind. 

These “deposits” slowly release after the dolphins are gone. An estimated 288 kilograms of nitrogen get deposited yearly per pod! In their travels, they facilitate a cycle of nitrogen uptake and release for the reefs.  

This gives bathroom breaks a whole new PORPOISE!

Reference: Letessier, T.B., Johnston, J., Delarue, J., Martin, B. and Anderson, R.C. (2022), Spinner dolphin residency in tropical atoll lagoons: Diurnal presence, seasonal variability and implications for nutrient dynamics. J Zool.