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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

What Do Whales Drink?

By February 2, 2014

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Have you ever wondered what whales drink?

You probably know all animals require water to live. Humans drink fresh water and get water from the foods we eat. If we eat foods that contain enough water, we could get the water we need without actually drinking it. If we drink seawater the salt overwhelms our kidneys, essentially making us thirstier. However, whales ingest some seawater with the foods they eat, yet are fine. Just like us, whales need fresh water in order to live. They get most of this water from the food they eat (krill, fish, or plankton). Whale kidneys are made to extract water from their food and possibly some seawater. This is similar to the way terrestrial desert animals get water from their food.

Water Intoxication | Sports Drinks Versus Water


February 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm
(1) thewhalepeople.com says:

Fascinating comment, thanks!

But there is a problem.

You see, baleeen whales that eat krill as their main water source, are now in competition with man.

Oil taken from krill (millions of them) is now touted for its healing properties for the human heart (omega 3). Iceland already uses this same reason to slaughter thousands of whales yearly.

Even reports by researchers (placed in many journals and newspapers) point to the “fact” of how many krill can be consumed just by one whale, while ignoring how much the krill industry takes in one season!

The interesting point is this. Fishermen do not replace what they take, like land farming. Whales, on the other hand, help replenish the food chain by their feces (HUGE amounts), which contains nitrogen particulate matter. This matter is eaten by plankton, which in turn, is eaten by many small crustaceans (including krill). And the lack of krill diminshes the food for whales but many other sea creatures.

So the “water” you speak of is growing less and less, due to man, unfortunately!

March 25, 2013 at 12:01 am
(2) max says:

You said the kidneys absorb water from the whale’s food. This does not make any sense. In Mammals the kidneys are not connected to the digestive tract they are connected to the circulatory system.
If what you say is true then whales must have very salty blood.
There is something missing here

August 31, 2013 at 4:13 am
(3) stewart says:

All marine mammals have evolved kidneys to deal with high salt concentrations – as have sea birds. A whale’s blood is no more salty than ours is. Salt is excreted through urination.

April 3, 2014 at 3:36 am
(4) ozogg says:

One poster opined :
“In Mammals the kidneys are not connected to the digestive tract they are connected to the circulatory system.”

This person seems to think that there is no blood supply to the alimentary canal !!!

In fact, the blood supply to (and from) the gut is very rich indeed – for THAT is how we feed, extract nutrients, and EXTRACT WATER, whether pure, or in food !!!!

The blood then passess thru the kidneys, which extracts out water in carefully regulated amounts, usually passing it to the bladder.

Go back to Biology101 at Uni !

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