• Question: how long would a whale survive without any water surrounding it?

    Asked by cookie555 to Anna, Jane, Iain, Nick on 19 Mar 2014.
    • Photo: Nick Goldman

      Nick Goldman answered on 19 Mar 2014:


      Whales need water to support their heavy bodies’ weight, and to cool them down. Big whales need these things more urgently that small ones. Big whales can survive for a few hours—longer if people keep them cool by pouring water on them.

      I should add, scientists don’t do cruel experiments to find this out: they observe what happens when whales get washed ashore (and of course, they try to help the whales if they can).

    • Photo: Jane Charlesworth

      Jane Charlesworth answered on 19 Mar 2014:


      Whales live in water and are often pretty big, so if they end up washing ashore their bodies are suddenly under a lot of pressure and they end up overheating, burning in the sun and being unable to move. So they can’t really survive very long out of water. It’s really tragic when large whales get beached–people try to keep them alive by pouring water over them, but they need to get back in the water as quickly as possible (within a few hours) to survive.

    • Photo: Anna Middleton

      Anna Middleton answered on 19 Mar 2014:


      Hi cookie555 I agree with Nick and Jane, I don’t think a whale would survive for a long time without water surrounding it. Just in the same way that we wouldn’t survive long without air surrounding us.

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