The key to coral reef longevity: Dolphin poop

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While many are concerned about the future of coral reefs, it turns out the key to keeping reefs alive already exists in nature.

Dolphins, specifically Spinner Dolphins, have excrement that contains “reef-enhancing nutrients.”

According to a study by the Zoological Society London (ZSL), the key poop ingredient is nitrogen, which helps the coral reefs grow and resist stresses from the environment.

As reported in

The dolphins are giving threatened coral reefs in the Maldives and Chagos Archipelago a helping hand by pooing in the shallow lagoons. Published this week, the study shows that the amount of nitrogen absorbed by spinner dolphins during their daily commute can improve coral reef productivity and resilience.

They noticed that the dolphins enter atoll lagoons (ring-shaped coral reefs) in the morning, where they then spend half the day resting, before leaving in the afternoon to hunt and forage in the deeper waters at night.

During the first half of the day, conservationists estimated that one dolphin pod would excrete around 288kg – or about the weight of 3-4 human adults – of reef-enhancing nitrogen into the shallow lagoons.”

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