How do penguins convert salt water into fresh water

Do penguins have to drink?

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April 7, 2008 - 21:58 - Matthias
Yes, penguins have to drink too. Just like all living things, your body needs water for many processes, for example also for metabolism. Water also forms the basis of a penguin's blood serum and is used to excrete pollutants. It is true that penguins do not urinate like mammals do, but like all birds have only one body opening for excrement, namely the cesspool. However, the excrement released by this also contains water and penguins also lose water in other ways, for example through breathing, where they (like humans) exhale humid air. Although water is produced during cellular respiration during end-oxidation, its amount is small and so penguins still have to consume water to make up for losses.
However, penguins always swallow their prey underwater when hunting, so that they always swallow a gush of seawater with them. This means that they cover their water needs so well that they normally do not have to drink additional water.
The problem of drinking only arises during longer stays on land, whereby it can be observed that penguins make use of two different ways to ingest water. On the one hand, they drink sea water and, on the other hand, they drink melted snow or even drink fresh water directly. The emperor penguins in particular, who cannot go into the sea for several weeks during the breeding period, eat snow.

Species living further north, such as the king penguins in South Georgia, also have some glacier streams available for water intake, which flow into the sea near their colonies. However, so far only a few specimens have been observed that have drunk directly from the streams.
As already mentioned, penguins get the water they need with the seawater that they swallow when hunting.
People are harmed by drinking sea water, as the sodium chloride concentration in the whole body is 0.9%, so when drinking sea water, they consume a hypertonic saline solution (3%). Humans can only excrete excess table salt in a lower concentration. His body has to dilute the 3% saline solution it has absorbed with water, which is removed from storage tissues, in order to excrete it again in the urine. In the end, he draws more water from his body than he has absorbed by drinking the sea water.
In the penguin, too, the salt concentration in the body is below that of seawater, so the same effect would occur with him if he did not have a special organ for the excretion of salt. Many seabirds have this organ, known as the tubular nose. It is made up of salt glands and a tubular duct and is able to secrete very highly concentrated salt solutions. The salt glands secrete this solution, which drains through the duct and is excreted through the nostrils. This is why penguins that have recently returned from the sea often have a drop hanging from the tip of their beak - this is the highly concentrated saline solution that has been excreted through the nasal cavities and has run to the tip of the beak and dripped down there.