The skin of pilot whales resists microorganisms thanks to microscopic pores and nanoridges, surrounded by a secreted enzymatic gel which denatures proteins and carbohydrates.
"On the skin surface of delphinids small biofoulers are challenged to high shear water flow and liquid–vapor interfaces of air-bubbles during jumping. This state of self-cleaning is supported by the even, nano-rough gel-coated epidermal surface of the skin. The present study focussed on the intercellular evolution of gel formation and the chemical composition of the gel smoothing the skin surface of the pilot whale, Globicephala melas…In the superficial layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum, intercellular material was shown…to assemble from smaller into larger covalently cross-linked aggregates during the transit of the corneocytes towards the skin surface. XPS measurements showed that the surface of the skin and the intercellular gel included approximately the same amounts of polar groups (especially, free amines and amides) and non-polar groups, corresponding to the presence of lipid droplets dispersed within the jelly material. It was concluded from the results that the gel-coat of the skin surface is a chemically heterogeneous skin product. The advantages of chemically heterogeneous patches contributing to the ablation of traces of the biofouling process are discussed." (Baum et al. 2003:181)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Baum C; Meyer W; Stelzer R; Fleischer L-G; Siebers. 2002. Average nanorough skin surface of the pilot whale (Globicephala melas, Delphinidae): considerations on the self-cleaning abilities based on nanoroughness. Marine Biology. 140(3): 653-657.
- Baum C; Simon F; Meyer W; Fleischer L-G; Siebers D; Kacza J; Seeger J. 2003. Surface properties of the skin of the pilot whale Globicephala melas. Biofouling. 19(Supplement): 181-186.
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