Thirsty Turtles: Do Sea Turtles Drink Water? – Full Guide

do sea turtles drink water

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Sea turtles can be found all around the world in many different oceans aside from the icy waters of the Antarctic.

They prefer warm, tropical reef systems where the water is shallow and they can benefit from the sun’s warm rays.

In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at sea turtles and what they drink and answer, do sea turtles drink water?

Yes, sea turtles drink saltwater all of their lives to stay hydrated. They have special glands behind their eyes to filter the salt from the water as if they consume too much salt they will become osmotic.

Do Sea Turtles Really Drink Water?

Just like almost all living things, sea turtles need to drink water for their survival. Water is essential for many of their vital metabolic processes and provides them with the energy they need to survive.

When a sea turtle drinks salt water, the salt enters the blood and is transported to the salt glands that then produce a solution that is around twice the concentration of salt as the water they drank.

The concentrated solution comes out of the turtle’s eye as salty tears and is washed away by their lens.

By doing this, they can drink seawater and get rid of the salt in their tears and have about half the amount of seawater left to use as fresh water for their daily activities.

This is because reptiles are unable to excrete large volumes of salt through their urine like many other animals, so they evolved specialized secretory glands in their eyes to remove the salt instead.

Why Do Sea Turtles Cry?

When sea turtles excrete salt from the water through their eyes, it can look like they are crying and upset.

However, this is not the case. Sea turtles may seem like they are crying but really this is how they excrete salt from the salt water they drink.

They are unable to remove the salt through urine, so instead remove it through their secretory glands behind their eyes which can sometimes give the appearance that they are crying.

How Do Sea Turtles Drink Water?

It may come as a surprise but turtles are actually prone to dehydration, especially smaller ones. As turtles age, they typically become bigger and bigger, which means they can hold more water in their bodies.

This means that they are able to stay out of water or visit land for longer periods, but as juveniles, they can only stay out of the water for around 24 hours.

When sea turtles need to drink water, they use their mouths just like you and I to take a mouthful of water to restore some hydration.

But they also take in water through their nose and cloaca to “drink”, it’s a slightly different process to how we humans drink but it also contributes to their hydration.

Final Thoughts

So, do sea turtles drink water? Absolutely. Just like many other beings on planet earth, sea turtles need to drink water to stay hydrated and have the energy to carry out their daily activities.

They drink through their nose, mouth, and cloaca before filtering the salt through their specialized glands and excreting it through their eyes.

It’s an interesting process that can often look like sea turtles are crying when in actual fact they are simply removing salt that they’ve consumed through the water.

Hopefully, you’ve learned something new today about sea turtles and what they drink.

If you have enjoyed this post feel free to stick around to learn more about marine life and consider sharing this post with others who may find it interesting.