Do Dolphins Drink Water? 5 Facts You Should Know


Do Dolphins Drink Water? 5 Facts You Should Know

Wondering whether dolphins need to drink water like other mammals? Let us find out. 

Dolphins drink water, but this water is not derived from the ocean that they swim in as it is usually too salty for consumption. Instead, dolphins rely on the food that they consume to derive water. The metabolic breakdown of particles of food releases enough water to sustain the dolphin.

That being said, like other marine animals, dolphins may occasionally consume ocean water, but they have shown no signs of doing so routinely. Food remains their primary source of hydration. 

Image Credits: “Dolphins” by Nico Kaiser is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

How do dolphins get water?

Are you wondering how dolphins get their water? Let us tell you all about it. 

Dolphins get water through their food, not directly from the sea. As some of you might already know, dolphins consume animals like squid, fishes, and octopuses, which already have high water content. They derive their water from these animals as well as from the breakdown of food particles during the metabolic process. 

Most dolphin species live in saltwater, which makes it difficult for them to rely on their surrounding sources for their water requirement due to the high salt content. As such, the food they consume becomes the primary source of hydration for them. 

Do dolphins drink seawater?

Curious to know whether dolphins drink seawater? Let us together learn more in this regard. 

Dolphins do not drink seawater, at least not regularly. As we have mentioned earlier, dolphins primarily rely on the breakdown of their food particles in order to derive water. Dolphins consume squid, octopuses, and fish, which already have high water content, and as such, they can easily survive off the water that they get through their consumption of these animals.

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Having said that, we must add that sometimes dolphins may end up consuming salt water, but they have an excellent filtration system that allows the excess salt from the water to pass through their urine. 

Do dolphins need to drink fresh water?

Are you curious to know whether dolphins need to specifically drink fresh water? Let us find out. 

Like all mammals, dolphins need some fresh water to survive. However, most dolphin species occupy waters that have high salt content, and in this case, they have to filter out the salt from the water before consumption. The good news is that dolphins have an excellent filtration system that makes this process possible, and the excess salt is eliminated from the dolphin’s body.

We must add here that most dolphins do not thrive in freshwater regions since their skin starts peeling off. As such, if removed from their natural saltwater environment for a long period, dolphins start developing skin lesions, and there have been reports of them dying in freshwater. 

How do dolphins survive without fresh water?

Image Credits: “Dolphins in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia” by DocklandsTony is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Wondering how dolphins manage to survive without a routine supply of fresh water? Allow us to tell you more in this regard. 

In the absence of fresh water, dolphins use their food to derive the required hydration. The metabolic process in dolphins is a complex one, and the food particles are broken down to produce the water required by dolphins. In the absence of fresh water, dolphins can regulate their food intake to get the necessary volume of water. 

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Some dolphin species are native to fresh waters, which makes it easier for them to hunt for food as well as consuming water. They do not have to remove the excess salt from their water before consuming it. However, the majority of dolphins live in saltwater, and their filtration system is of utmost importance to them. 

Do dolphins swallow water when eating?

Curious to know whether dolphins end up swallowing water while eating? Let us together find out more on this topic. 

Dolphins seldom swallow water when eating. Although the water goes into their mouth when they ingest food, it is pushed right back just before the animal swallows its food. This is because most dolphins live in saltwater regions and the water around them is not suitable for consumption. 

We must also mention here that dolphins remain in water throughout and do not get dehydrated the way some land mammals do. As such, they require less water for hydration than land mammals. If they are removed from the water, they need to be kept wet and cold. 

Can dolphins breathe in water?

Image Credits: “Dolphins in Pine Island Sound” by pmarkham is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Now that we have taken a look at 5 major facts about dolphins’ water-drinking habits let us learn whether they can breathe in water.

Dolphins cannot breathe in water like fishes do since they lack gills. Instead, dolphins have lungs like mammals and travel to the surface to breathe in and out. They have a blowhole through which they inhale and exhale air, and they need to breathe around 8 to 10 times per minute. 

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Dolphins frequently travel to the surface of the ocean to breathe. Sometimes, they can hold their breath for a couple of minutes (6-10 minutes) underwater, which allows them to dive deep into the ocean in search of food. 


Dolphins are always alert underwater, keeping one-half of their brain awake even when they are asleep. This prevents them from drowning or choking on the water. Besides, they can always stay alert in case of potential attacks. 

In addition, dolphins have unique food and water patterns. These animals consume large quantities of fish, octopuses, and squid, which have high water content and this is how dolphins get their water. 

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