Do Whales Drink Water? [Yes, Here’s How]

Yes, whales drink water but in very low quantities. Even they don’t drink like other mammals. You may be surprised why whales need water to drink and how they consume such salty water.

Well, here are many things you should know before you understand how whales manage their hydration level. And in this article, I will describe everything in detail.

Do Whales Drink Water?

Whales do drink water, but they need far less of it than other mammals. They get most of their hydration from the ocean by consuming a variety of foods such as plankton, fish, squid, and krill.

Blue Whale

Additionally, they also consume saltwater that helps to keep them hydrated. Whales also have a unique adaptation in that their kidneys are more efficient at conserving water and passing out waste products than those of land mammals. This helps them to remain hydrated even in dry climates or when food sources are scarce.

Whales also have a special way of drinking water from the surface of the ocean. While swimming on the surface, they take small gulps of seawater into their mouths and then filter out what they don’t need with their baleen plates before swallowing the remaining liquid. This technique helps them stay hydrated without diving too deep into the ocean for fresh supplies.

They can even get some moisture from the air during long dives by using a process known as osmosis. This is when substances move through cell membranes so that their concentrations become equal on both sides.

Whales use this process while submerged underwater by taking advantage of the difference in concentrated, dissolved salts between inside and outside the whale’s cells to help them obtain some moisture and nutrients, which keeps them hydrated during long dives or migrations.

How Do Whales Get Fresh Water to Drink?

Whales are able to get fresh water in a number of ways. Firstly, they can obtain it through their prey. Whales feed on a variety of different organisms, such as fish, krill, and plankton, which contain high levels of freshwater content.

In particular, larger whales tend to consume more fatty fish with greater freshwater. This allows them to obtain the water they need for survival directly from their food sources.

Additionally, whales may be able to absorb some freshwater directly through their skin if they spend enough time in shallow waters near shorelines or estuaries with higher freshwater presence.


In addition to these two primary methods of obtaining fresh water, whales may also be able to utilize rainwater that falls directly into the ocean while they are swimming close to the surface. This is especially true for species that inhabit warmer climates with more precipitation than cooler regions.

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Furthermore, some whales have been observed gathering at sea ice, where melting snow and ice provide them with additional sources of fresh water during the summer season.

Many species of whales have adapted special techniques related to drinking salt water in order to obtain necessary hydration without having access to pure freshwater sources.

For instance, some whales possess nasal turbinate bones beneath the blowhole that help filter out salt from seawater before being ingested by the whale itself. This enables them to drink salt water without experiencing any adverse effects due to its higher salinity content than what is found in freshwater sources.

As you can see, whales rely on a combination of various methods in order to survive and remain hydrated despite their aquatic environment consisting mainly of salty seawater only.

Can Whales Be Dehydrated?

Yes, whales can be dehydrated. This is due to the fact that they are living in salty seawater, which has a much higher salt concentration than their own bodies do. When they drink this salt water, it can actually dehydrate them as the water does not contain enough of what their bodies need to stay hydrated.

Furthermore, whales have an incredibly thick layer of insulating blubber that can keep them warm. Unfortunately, it makes them more vulnerable to overheating and dehydration due to rapid evaporation from their lungs.

A whale’s body works hard every day to maintain its internal balance and temperature through metabolism processes as well as storing large amounts of energy in fat reserves like blubber.

However, when a whale is subjected to extreme temperatures or long periods of activity without rest, these energy reserves become depleted quickly, and without care, they could become severely dehydrated.

In addition, if they are exposed to too much sun or strong currents, they may also overheat, leading to further dehydration.

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In some cases of severe dehydration among whales, it is even possible for them to experience seizures or heart failure due to electrolyte imbalances caused by the lack of fluid intake and prolonged exposure to heat.

If a whale is found in this state, it must be treated immediately with fluids in order for it to survive. If not treated quickly enough, then dehydration can turn fatal very quickly.

Do Whales Drink a Lot of Water?

No, whales do not drink a lot of water. In fact, they get most of their water content from the prey they consume. Large mammals living in the ocean obtain necessary fluids through their diet and relatively low metabolic rate.

Whales are carnivorous animals and rely on their prey to provide them with nutrients and liquids. Therefore, the need to drink a large amount of water is eliminated.


Whales typically feed on fish, krill, crustaceans, squid, and other aquatic organisms. These prey items are high in water content — often greater than 90 percent — which allows whales to meet their hydration requirements without needing to drink significant amounts of additional water from outside sources.

Individual species may have slight variations in diet that can lead to different levels of water intake; however, as a general rule, whales do not require a lot of extra liquid beyond what they can get from their food sources.

Additionally, whales tend to lead slow-moving lives that involve resting or traveling long distances at slow speeds. This lifestyle helps reduce their metabolic rates and relative need for additional hydration that comes with more active behaviors such as swimming or hunting for prey.

Furthermore, these marine creatures are able to regulate body temperature by relying on behaviors like gulping air rather than drinking cool water during hot weather conditions.

Can Whales Be Thirsty?

No, whales are not typically thirsty like other mammals. This is due to their incredibly efficient kidneys, which can process seawater quickly and efficiently, taking out the salt and allowing them to maintain the right balance of fluids in their bodies.

In addition, whales have special glands near the eyes that secrete a lubricant to keep the eyes moist and healthy while living in saltwater. While they may not feel thirsty like land animals do, whales drink some water from time to time. For example, if a whale finds itself in a freshwater area such as a river, estuary, or lake, it will drink fresh water for hydration.

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Additionally, when whales come up for air at the surface of the ocean, they can consume small amounts of water along with their breath. This is especially important for species like blue whales, who can remain submerged for long periods of time without coming up for air.

How Much Water Can Whales Drink?

Whales have incredibly large mouths, allowing them to ingest up to 80,000 liters of water in a single gulp. This capacity is remarkable considering that fully grown adult blue whales measure around 25 m in length, yet their mouth can contain up to 10,000 gallons of water while they eat.

Other species of whale, such as humpback whales and orca whales, also have huge mouths and can take in vast amounts of food and water in one go.

whale baleen

Due to the vast size of the ocean, these huge gulps are necessary for marine mammals to efficiently hunt down prey and navigate large distances while searching for food. In addition to helping them survive in the wild, it is thought that this adaptation allows whales to efficiently expand their stomachs when eating a large meal so they can store the energy from their meals for later use.

In addition to being able to consume huge quantities of water at once, whales also have some fascinating adaptations which help them process the food they intake more effectively. For example, sperm whales have specially adapted teeth for crushing mollusks and squid, which form part of their diet.

Whales also possess unique filter-feeding systems that allow them to sift through thousands of liters of water per minute to capture small prey such as krill or planktonic organisms.


Hopefully, you understand that whales don’t get thirsty like other mammals because they have terrific kidneys to process the saltwater and efficiently remove salt content. They drink a minimal amount of saltwater from the ocean. And most of the water content they consume from other food.

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