Tuesday, June 25

The Debunker: Can a Little Bit of Seawater Stave Off Thirst?

by Ken Jennings

June is the time of year the United Nations observes World Oceans Day and the U.S. celebrates National Oceans Month, so we’ve asked Skipper Ken Jennings to navigate us through four maritime myths that refuse to die. It turns out that none of them really hold water.

Ocean Myth #4: Stranded at Sea, You Should Drink Seawater in Small Quantities.

In 1952, a French biologist named Alain Bombard decided to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a small inflatable boat almost entirely without provisions. He hoped to test theories and discover techniques that could one day save the lives of other unfortunates finding themselves, as it were, in the same boat. In particular, Bombard believed that drinking seawater could sustain life, as long as the drinker wasn’t already too dehydrated, and could limit his intake to less than a pint and a half a day.

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