How Come Marine Birds Can Drink Salt Water Without Any Ill Effects?


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Kath Senior Profile
Kath Senior answered
If someone is stranded in the sea on a raft or small boat on a hot day, they very quickly start to become dehydrated. In desperation, they may try drinking salt water, which is likely to make the sick and then more dehydrated. However if they do manage to keep any down, they still get more dehydrated as the salt passes into the blood and then stimulates the kidneys to excrete it – along with more water than the person drank in the first place.

Sea birds like the albatross drink freely from sea water but never seem to suffer any ill effects. They manage this because their physiology has become adapted to the sea environment. They have special glands just behind their eyes that actively pump salt out of their blood and into narrow tubes that lead into the bird's nostril.

The excess salt drips harmlessly out of the body, restoring the blood salt level back to normal.

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