How Do Whales Drink Water And Milk: How, Why, When, Frequency, And Several Facts

Whales are intriguing animals with unique diet requirements. Let us figure out why and how they drink water and milk.

Whales are essentially mammals and have similar feeding requirements. Like mammals, they drink water and milk. Interestingly, since they do not have lips, they suckle milk from their mothers much like humans, and other mammals do. Besides, they also consume gallons of seawater per day. Water and milk thus form an essential part of the whale’s diet.

There are a lot of questions asked about whales and how they drink water and milk. Today, we will look at some of the most commonly asked questions.

 What do whales drink?

Whales need to drink sufficient quantities of water to stay hydrated and function well in the ocean. Let us find out what they drink.

Whales are surrounded by water, especially saltwater, and often drink it to hydrate themselves. However, the majority of the whale’s water requirement is derived from their consumption of small sea animals, including copepods, krill, and fish. Whales take time to process their prey, and they extract the water simultaneously.

Image Credits: “baby whale shark” by Drew And Merissa is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Most of the water that whales derive comes from krill, which forms the major part of their diet. There is no dearth of krill in seawater, which is how whales consistently stay hydrated.

How much water do whales drink?

You might be curious to know the exact quantity of water whales drink in a day. Allow us to elaborate upon this.

On average, blue whales may swallow up to 10,000 gallons of water in a day and their baleen plates filter the food from it and the whale pushes out the rest of the water back into the ocean. It is worth mentioning that whales have a highly elastic mouth and can gulp down large quantities of water in one go.

How do whales drink seawater?

Wondering how whales manage to drink seawater? Let us together understand the mechanism behind it. 

Whales can drink seawater, despite the high salt content in them. This is because the kidneys of whales have been designed in such a way that they can process high quantities of salt without causing any damage to the animal. Besides, the salt is thrown out of the body when the shark excretes. 

As such, whales manage to cope with high salt levels in the sea, which might otherwise be damaging to most other mammals, including humans.

How do killer whales drink water?

Curious to know how killer whales drink water? Allow us to take you through the entire process. 

Killer whales do not drink water like human beings do since they are not land animals. Instead, they derive water from their food. When whales swallow their food, large quantities of water also go with it. They end up pushing back most of the water but retain sufficient quantities of it in order to sustain themselves. 

How much water do blue whales drink?

Blue whales are magnificent oceanic creatures. But, how much water do they require? Let us tell you all about it.

Killer whales have a slightly different way of drinking water. Unlike land animals, they do not drink water through their mouth as they live in water and do not get dehydrated. Instead, they rely on their food to derive water. Killer whales, being apex predators, eat fish, squid, etc. They derive water from these animals. 

Thus, killer whales can consume seawater as well as freshwater through this method. Since they are large animals, they need sufficient quantities of water to thrive.

Do whales drink milk?

Milk is a powerful energy source. But, do whales drink milk? Let us find out together. 

Surprisingly, whales drink milk, just like human beings do. Milk is a powerful nutritional source for whales and is vital for their proper growth and development. Therefore, whales drink milk from their mother as they cannot hunt or feed for themselves. Even dolphins drink milk. However, sharks swim away as soon as they are born and can feed for themselves. 

Dolphin and whale calves rely on their mothers to feed them. The mother’s milk keeps the animal healthy and helps them gain weight and grow properly. 

Do baby whales drink milk?

Image Credits: “Mother and baby whale” by Dave Lonsdale is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Baby whales need proper nourishment for growth. So, do they drink milk? Let us find out.

Like all other mammals, baby whales need their mother’s milk to develop properly. It is the ultimate source of nourishment for growing whales. As some of you might already know, mother whales have mammary slits which contain the feeding glands. Since baby whales have no lips, the milk is injected into their mouth by their mothers. 

It is worth mentioning here that feeding milk to whales is much harder since they are aquatic animals, and the milk needs to be injected into their mouths.

Do baby whales drink milk from their mothers?

Unlike sharks, whales depend a lot on their mothers. Let us together find out if whales drink milk from their mothers.

Baby whales drink milk from their mothers. However, as we have mentioned earlier, they cannot suckle the milk from their mothers and have to gently nudge them when they are hungry. Then, the mother whales directly inject the milk into their mouths. Dolphins are fed in a similar manner. 

On the other hand, sharks are self-sufficient animals who swim away from their mothers as soon as they are born to hunt and feed for themselves. They are born with a full set of teeth which makes hunting easy. 

Do all baby whales drink milk?

Are you wondering if all baby whales drink milk? Allow us to tell you more in this regard. 

All baby whales drink milk. Milk derived from their mothers becomes the primary source of nourishment for the whale and plays a vital role in their growth and development. Regularly drinking their mother’s milk helps the whales gain several pounds and adds to their overall health.

As we have mentioned earlier, baby whales cannot feed or hunt for themselves as baby sharks can. Therefore, they rely on milk to fulfill all their nutritional requirements. 

How long do whales drink milk?

Now that you know all whales drink milk, you must be curious to know for how long? Let us find out more about this. 

Baby whales, on average, can drink milk anywhere between one to three years. However, some whale varieties, like the bowhead whale, nurse their baby for around six to twelve months only. Killer whales drink milk for around two years. On the other hand, beluga whales nurse their babies for a minimum period of 20 months and a maximum of two years.

Whales need sufficient quantities of milk every day to gain weight and live a healthy life. Therefore, baby whales rely on their mothers to feed them. 

Do baby killer whales drink milk?

Image Credits: “Bjossa the Orca” by GreyHobbit is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Wondering whether baby killer whales drink milk? Let us tell you more about it. 

Baby killer whales drink milk, just like all other baby whales. Whales depend on milk to derive protein and other vitamins, which assist them in proper growth and development. Baby killer whales cannot hunt or feed for themselves, so mother’s milk becomes of utmost importance for them. They usually drink mother’s milk for a year or two.

We must also mention here that female killer whales have milk high in fat content, which helps their offspring gain weight.

What does whale milk taste like?

Curious to know what whale milk tastes like? Allow us to tell you all about it. 

The exact taste of whale milk is tough to define. However, it is said that it tastes like a mixture of liver, fish, castor oil, and milk of magnesia. The texture is soft and buttery, and it contains fifteen times the fat of cow milk. As a result, whale milk is far too fatty and thick for human consumption. 

Although whale milk is excellent for the growth of whales, they are not recommended for humans at all. Besides, given their taste, it is likely that humans are not going to enjoy it.

How do whales drink milk underwater?

You might be wondering how whales manage to drink milk underwater? Let us together understand the process. 

Mother whales have mammary slits which contain their feeding glands. When the whales are hungry, they nudge the mammary slits, and the mother practically injects the milk into the mouth of their offspring. The whales cannot suckle the milk, and as such, they roll their tongue to drink it. Therefore, they do not accidentally swallow water while drinking milk.

We must mention here that dolphins drink milk in a similar way. As such, despite being in the water all the time, they do not swallow water while drinking milk. 

How much milk do whales drink?

Image Credits: “Humpback Whale” by D-Stanley is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Wondering how much milk can whale calves drink in a day? Let us find out together.

The quantity of milk a whale calf will drink in a day varies according to its type. For instance, large whales like humpback whales can drink around 110 gallons of milk per day. On the other hand, blue whales can consume around 50 gallons of milk per day and so on. 

The quantity of milk consumed by whale calves directly affects their weight. The more milk they drink, the more weight they are likely to gain.


Whales are mammals and need milk for proper growth and nourishment. Besides, as we have mentioned earlier, whale milk has high quantities of fat which baby whales need to develop properly and keep themselves warm. It is through regular milk consumption that whales gain weight and keep themselves warm. The thickness of whale milk prevents it from dissolving in water. All whale calves drink milk up to a certain age, which varies according to the species.


I am Atrayee, I have extreme passion for the Animal Kingdom and I have written a large number of articles for animal behaviors. I am an Animal Lover by nature and own two Cats.
Exploring new things through learning and unlearning is something that intrigues me a lot. I spend my free time with my husband and two cats. I must say I get to learn a lot of wise things from them! You can catch me on LinkedIn -

Recent Posts