2 min read
I was with my little brother at the park the other day, and he asked me why hasn't he seen Michelangelo (from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) drink water. It got me thinking. How do sea turtles drink water without getting sick? As soon as we got home I started researching. This is what I've found.
The only thing sea turtles drink is seawater, and the thing that makes this possible is their glands. These glands are located behind each of their eyes, and they're commonly known as "salt glands". Those salt glands work in a very specific way when they drink salt water the salt enters the blood and is then transported to the salt glands. It can produce a solution that is twice the concentration of salt as the seawater. Then, that concentrated solution comes out the corner of the eyes, like salty tears, and gets washed away.
Fundamentally, with their salt glands, they filtrate the salt out of the water, cry it out later. After that process, about half of the water they drank in the first place is used for their physical requirements.
Salt glands are found in plenty of different animals other than sea turtles such as sharks, rays, skates, and sea birds. Due to the amount of time these marine vertebrates (fish and tetrapods) spent in the sea, they evolved so they could cope with the conditions.
It is manifested differently in every sea animal, but the process is the same. It filtrates the salt out of the water to provide them with clean water. These glands are located in different places depending on the animal. While sea birds and sharks have glands and use them, turtles do it most efficiently. Which means they can extract the largest amount of clear water from the seawater they drank. So the turtles win again.
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