Student Question

How can penguins desalinate salt water into fresh water?

What is its body mechanism?

Expert Answers

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Penguins do not actually drink saltwater for nutrition.  But since they do spend lots of time in the ocean water and also eat their food underwater, they ingest a certain amount of saltwater.  Penguins (and other marine birds) have a gland called the supraorbital gland that is located in their head that filters out excess salt from the bloodstream.  It is like a highly effective kidney for salt.  The stored salt is eventually excreted by the penguin though the beak in the form of a brine, or highly concentrated salt solution.

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