We know that water is the source of everything. Whether it is humans, plants or animals, it is inseparable from water. If there is insufficient water in the body, it will cause dehydration and serious life-threatening.
We also know that sea water is salty. If people drink sea water in large quantities, they will not only quench their thirst, but also affect the normal physiological functions of the human body. What about animals that live in the ocean? How do they use sea water to sustain life?
Don’t worry, they all have their own tricks to adapt to this desert-like salt water environment. For example, a turtle has a salt-discharging gland behind its eye socket, and excess salt can be excreted through the salt gland. There are also sharks that maintain the homeostasis of water by regulating the concentration of urea in body fluids. What about the sea snake? How do sea snakes surrounded by salt water quench their thirst?
You might think that sea snakes drink sea water and then drain excess salt through the sublingual salt glands. The sea snake has a salt gland that is not found in the land snake. Excess salt can flow into the tongue sheath through the salt gland in the form of secretions. When the tongue is out, it is carried out by the way, so that the excess salt in the sea snake can be discharged. ?
Scientists have thought this in the past, but new research shows that a variety of sea snakes do not drink pure sea water, even if they are dehydrated. Although sea snakes do have glands that can excrete salt, these glands are relatively small and the rate of salt removal is slow, and the sea snake cannot take all the fresh water needed. So how do they quench their thirst?
In order to explore the secrets of the sea snake drinking water, scientists conducted a lot of experiments. In one experiment, the researchers took the captured sea snakes away from the water until they were dehydrated and then released them into the saline environment, and found that their body weight did not increase significantly. This shows that although it is very thirsty, the sea snake still does not drink salt water. Conversely, when researchers put it in fresh water, most of them immediately drink a lot of fresh water.
How does the sea snake in the deep ocean drink fresh water? Scientists believe that they rely mainly on rainwater. During the rain, the surface of the ocean often gathers a layer of rainwater that has not been mixed with seawater. The sea snake can make up the water by drinking the rainwater on the surface of the ocean, so that they can endure the thirst for up to 6 months.
Additional experiments confirm this view. Scientists captured multiple sea snakes at different times and provided them with fresh water in the lab. It was found that 80% of the sea snakes caught before the rainy season would drink the fresh water provided, while only 13% of the sea snakes caught after the rainy season would drink. This shows that the rainfall will solve the problem of dehydration of the sea snake. The sea snake that has experienced the rainy season has already supplemented the water through the rain, and will no longer drink the fresh water provided by the laboratory.
Scientists say the new study illustrates the importance of freshwater to the life of the sea snake, which explains why sea snakes are most common in areas with abundant rainfall.
Sea snakes are so dependent on rainwater, will climate change cause the reduction in rainfall to affect the number of sea snakes? What kind of chain reaction does the decline of the sea snake have on the ecosystem? These are all questions that scientists will explore next.