Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Do sea animals drink seawater?

Matt: How come if a human being drinks seawater he’ll probably get sick and die, but whales, dolphins, and walruses, and penguins can drink ocean water and thrive on it?

— Curious Bob, University City

Yeah, a cup or two of Mission Bay water would do you in, that’s for sure. I’m not even positive a walrus could handle it. But I have a surprise for you. Most marine mammals don’t drink salt water. They couldn’t deal with a constant diet of Pacific Ocean either. Scientists are a little bit in the dark about the drinking habits of whales and some dolphins, since they’re hard to observe in the wild. But since the mammals need water, how do they get it? From the fish they eat. Fish are low-sodium tidbits, so marine mammal kidneys can handle it. In fact, they can extract water as they metabolize the fish to satisfy their needs. The salt content of marine mammals’ blood is not so different from the blood of terrestrial critters.

Sea otters, seals, sea lions, and manatees have been observed occasionally drinking seawater. But they’re capable of concentrating and excreting highly salty urine, so they can handle it. Any creatures (including birds, sharks, and snakes) that live in or even near a saltwater environment have some method of getting rid of excess sodium. For that matter, so do all marine fish. Too much salt apparently doesn’t do anybody any good.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Customer complaint chases bullying Starbucks barista from corona-crazed coffee collective

Star-BUCKS

Matt: How come if a human being drinks seawater he’ll probably get sick and die, but whales, dolphins, and walruses, and penguins can drink ocean water and thrive on it?

— Curious Bob, University City

Yeah, a cup or two of Mission Bay water would do you in, that’s for sure. I’m not even positive a walrus could handle it. But I have a surprise for you. Most marine mammals don’t drink salt water. They couldn’t deal with a constant diet of Pacific Ocean either. Scientists are a little bit in the dark about the drinking habits of whales and some dolphins, since they’re hard to observe in the wild. But since the mammals need water, how do they get it? From the fish they eat. Fish are low-sodium tidbits, so marine mammal kidneys can handle it. In fact, they can extract water as they metabolize the fish to satisfy their needs. The salt content of marine mammals’ blood is not so different from the blood of terrestrial critters.

Sea otters, seals, sea lions, and manatees have been observed occasionally drinking seawater. But they’re capable of concentrating and excreting highly salty urine, so they can handle it. Any creatures (including birds, sharks, and snakes) that live in or even near a saltwater environment have some method of getting rid of excess sodium. For that matter, so do all marine fish. Too much salt apparently doesn’t do anybody any good.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Moved to tears by Dave’s Hot Chicken

Nashville hot chicken ranges from no spice, to hot, to the indemnified “reaper”
Next Article

Kahlee310’s snitch rapper reactions

“He’d literally do anything for the money or fame”
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close