Do Dolphins Shed Their Skin? [Yes, Here’s Why & How]

Yes, dolphins shed their outer layer of the skin to maintain hydrodynamics and protect their bodies from parasites, bacteria, and other organisms. There are some other advantages also that will be discussed afterward.

In this article, I will discuss more detail dolphins’ skin shedding.

Do Dolphins Shed Their Skin?

Yes, dolphins do shed their skin. They are able to shed the outer layer of their skin around 12 times every day, which equates to approximately twice an hour. This type of shedding is necessary for them as it helps to keep their skin healthy and also helps protect them from parasites and other irritants. The process of shedding happens almost invisibly and only results in a thin film that is quickly washed away by the ocean’s currents.

The new skin that grows in place of the old layers is thicker and smoother than before, which gives them a sleek and shiny appearance. Below this outer layer lies a thick layer of blubber that serves multiple purposes for dolphins.


It provides insulation against the cold water they inhabit, acts as a protective shield against predators, and is used as storage for excess fat when needed. Dolphins can lose or gain up to 40% of their overall body weight, depending on the season or availability of food sources.

In order to stay healthy, dolphins must maintain their waterproof barrier by regularly shedding off old layers of skin. This process allows them to keep their delicate membranes protected from environmental toxins and pathogens in saltwater oceans worldwide.

By sloughing off dead cells on a regular basis, dolphins ensure their unique form of aquatic locomotion remains effective over time with minimal damage or deterioration due to external factors.

Why Do Dolphins Shed Skin?

Dolphins shed their skin in order to increase swimming efficiency. The outer layer of skin is shed approximately every two hours, which helps to keep the body surface smooth and streamlined for maximum speed when swimming.

This also helps them conserve energy and move through the water more easily, allowing them to swim faster and travel greater distances with less effort.

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Dolphins also shed their skin in order to rid themselves of dead or damaged cells as a part of the natural healing process. In addition, dolphins also shed their skin when they are stressed or injured. The shedding process helps them heal faster by replacing old and damaged skin.

As well as aiding movement and speed in the water, shedding skin can also help remove parasites that attach themselves to the animal’s hide. By constantly exfoliating the skin, dolphins are able to reduce the chance of these parasites causing infections or irritation.


The skin of dolphins is also a crucial sensory organ. Specialized nerve endings give them a heightened sense of touch, allowing them to detect objects and potential prey without seeing it first. Regularly shedding this sensitive layer can protect these nerve endings from being damaged by external stimuli, such as sharp rocks or debris in their environment.

Further, shedding skin may be beneficial in thermoregulation – helping dolphins regulate their body temperature by getting rid of old layers of dead cells which would otherwise trap warmth near their bodies.

All these reasons make it clear why dolphins shed skin: it provides a range of benefits from improved swimming performance to protection from parasites and other environmental hazards.

How Do Dolphins Shed?

Dolphins shed skin much differently than humans do. They don’t slough it off in big flakes as we do; instead, dolphins constantly shed tiny pieces of skin all day in a process called molting or plastronage. In this process, the outermost layer of skin is replaced in as little as two hours. The dolphin’s skin cells are continuously renewed and pushed to the surface by the movement of fluid between the muscle layers beneath the epidermis.

As they move closer to the surface, they start to flatten out and become keratinized until, finally, they are released from the animal’s body. As a result, dolphins’ skin remains smooth and supple, unlike human skin, which can get dry and cracked over time.

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Dolphin molting is important for maintaining health. It allows them to remove bacteria, parasites, dead cells, and other debris that would otherwise build up on their skin and increase the chances of infection.

It also helps with thermoregulation – when a dolphin sheds a layer of old skin, it helps to regulate its body temperature by helping them keep cool in warm water or hold heat in cold water.

Not only does plastronage aid with the healing of cuts and abrasions, but it also promotes healthy cell growth. When combined, these elements give dolphins the strength to endure even the most trying environments during their extensive migrations.

What Is Dolphin Skin Called?

Dolphin skin or blubber is a specialized form of epidermis known as “denticles,” which are tiny structures with rounded ridges that overlap one another. These denticles give dolphins a smooth, streamlined appearance, making their skin more hydrodynamic.


The blubber layer of dolphin skin is the modified hypodermis, which consists of a thick layer of connective tissue containing fat cells, blood vessels, and other structures. This layer helps to insulate the animal from cold temperatures and acts as a shock absorber when swimming through rough waters.

In addition to providing insulation from the elements, the blubber also serves several important functions for dolphins, including storing energy reserves for long-distance swims and aiding in buoyancy control, allowing them to move through different depths in the water column.

Additionally, it can act as an effective defense against predators by providing additional protection against bites and abrasions.

What Is the Function of The Skin on A Dolphin?

A dolphin’s skin is an important protective barrier against the environment. Its epidermis is ten times thicker than any land mammal, providing increased protection from the sun’s UV rays, abrasions from rocks and coral, and parasites that could attach to the skin.

The thickened epidermis also helps keep body heat, allowing dolphins to remain comfortable even in cold water. The outer layer of a dolphin’s skin also helps reduce drag when swimming by providing a smooth surface for the water to flow over.

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Additionally, certain specialized regions of their skin contain sensory organs known as “bumpers,” which detect vibrations in the water and can help dolphins navigate their environment more effectively.


Lastly, though it may not be apparent at first glance, dolphins have small hair follicles that are located throughout their body and serve as receptors of pressure changes underwater. This helps them determine depth and distance from objects, aiding them in navigation or hunting prey.

How Many Times Do Dolphins Shed Their Skin?

Dolphins, along with whales and porpoises, are aquatic mammals belonging to the cetacean family. Like other animals, dolphins shed their outer layer of skin on a regular basis. In fact, dolphins are known to shed the outer layer of skin 12 times a day or every two hours. This helps them maintain healthy skin and regulate their body temperature by replacing the old layer with a new one better suited to their environment.

The shedding process starts with forming new cells underneath the epidermis. As these cells grow larger, they push upwards and outwards against the current layer of skin.

As pressure builds, the older skin will eventually crack and flake off in small pieces as newer layers of skin replace it beneath it. Dolphins also use their flippers to help rub away any stuck-on pieces of skin that won’t come off on their own in order to ensure that all loose pieces are gone.


Dolphin skin is an amazing layer that serves a variety of critical tasks. It protects them from the environment and predators, aids in body temperature regulation, and gives them a hydrodynamic form to aid in swimming. Dolphins shed their outer layer of skin every two hours, replacing it with a new layer that is better suited to their surroundings. This procedure aids in the maintenance of healthy skin and the optimization of its performance in the water.

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