Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink.”

— from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner


From prolific filmmaker Philip Bloom, comes this unusual mini documentary about an apparently old tradition of drinking sea water in South Africa. While there are some beneficial minerals that sea water contains and drinking small amounts of it should cause no ill effects as anyone who has been swimming at the beach knows, we certainly wouldn’t recommend drinking it by the jug-full.

Whales and other marine mammals are able to live full-time in salt water (although it is believed that they get most of their water from the food they eat) thanks to adaptations that allow their body to excrete large quantities of salt, but the human body is unable to tolerate the salt concentrations found in sea water – the renal system regulates sodium chloride (salt) in our blood within a narrow range around .9% – sea water typically has a salinity of around 3.5% – much higher than our bodies can metabolize.


Even if sea water was completely fine to drink, it probably would be a bad idea to drink it in this day and age. Our oceans are more polluted than ever and while there may still be a few uninhabited tropical islands in the middle of nowhere where one could find some relatively unpolluted sea water – it’s unlikely that the water off Durban, South Africa – the nation’s third largest city – would fit the bill as clean enough to drink.




One Response

  1. Brian A

    Not really that weird . The Africans believe it is medicine water ( mooty water)
    Growing up in JoBerg , when we went in vacation our staff would BEG us to bring back mooty water.
    They drink it for upset stomachs, head aches, and hangovers.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.