A collaborative effort between the National Marine Mammal Foundation, the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program, and the Gilbert Lab at UCSD School of Medicine and Scripps Institution of Oceanography successfully conducted fecal microbiota transplantations (FMTs) on Navy bottlenose dolphins with gastrointestinal disease. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, marks the first use of FMTs in dolphins and aims to provide a non-antibiotic option for treating gastrointestinal issues.

Initial results showed significant improvement in a dolphin taken off medication during the treatment course, indicating restored gut microbiome health. The study also developed protocols for screening healthy donor feces and banking them for future use. While more extensive research is needed, the findings offer promising therapeutic possibilities for marine mammal medicine and potentially for wild animals in rehabilitation settings.

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