Scientists studied social media videos of whales rubbing seaweed on their skin and concluded they're probably exfoliating

A whales fin coming out of the water, draped in a thick tangle of kelp.
The researchers reported over 100 times they caught the whales kelping. Sometimes they rubbed the seaweed on their fins, but other times, they put it on their face and tail.Kristin Campbell with Newport Coastal Adventure
  • Scientists gathered 105 instances of baleen whales performing a strange behavior called kelping.

  • Videos show whales that came across free floating seaweed rubbed it across their bodies.

  • This could be to help the whales exfoliate, or for them to entertain themselves, researchers said.

Look out beauty influencers, a new diva is sharing their skincare routine online — whales.

Baleen whales across the world play with kelp, rubbing it across their skin, according to a September study that Australian researchers published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Marine Science and Engineering.

The group gathered over a hundred videos and photos from social media of whales "kelping", which led them to realize that this behavior isn't isolated to one group of baleen whales.

The behavior was most commonly observed with humpbacks but was also found in gray, southern right, and northern right whales.

Because this behavior turned out to be so widespread, the researchers began to speculate why the whales were doing it. Their first hypothesis is that the whales, which are known for their playful antics, are kelping to entertain themselves.

But it's also possible, the researchers wrote, that the whales are using the kelp to exfoliate their skin, removing parasites and bacteria.

"Just that rubbing will get rid of some of those little guys," Olaf Meynecke, the lead author of the study from the Marine Research Centre in Queensland, Australia, told Live Science.

The video below shows one of these instances of a humpback whale kelping off of Australia's east coast:

Pulling content from Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr, the scientists found media from as far back as 2007.

The paper said social media offers a great opportunity for science "to engage a large network of individuals with its widespread reach and the ability to rapidly share information and observations."

It highlights a collaboration between everyday people and the scientific process, they wrote.

Read the original article on Business Insider