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Dolphin Healing

August 18, 2011

Dolphins heal remarkably well after massive shark bites, and scientists want to know how they do it.



Diving into dolphin healing. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Dolphins are known for their keen intelligence. But Georgetown University medical scientist Michael Zasloff has focused on their amazing healing abilities. He and Australian conservationist Trevor Hassard have been documenting how dolphins routinely recover from huge shark bites within a month.

MICHAEL ZASLOFF (Georgetown University):

And in this month, that deficit is filled, and you don’t see scars. There is no evidence of infection – there’s no swelling, without any antibiotics – and what’s equally remarkable is they definitely show no pain.


How they do it remains to be seen, but Zasloff suspects that two key factors are antibiotic compounds in dolphin blubber, and the dolphins’ ability to minimize blood flow to the surface of their bodies. Zasloff has also studied healing properties in frog and shark skin, but he’s excited about dolphins because they’re mammals, and therefore more relevant to human medicine. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.