Two Living Things that Give Off Salt

There are words with phile or similar in them that often mean a love of something, such as philosophy (love or wisdom or learning). The word structure can also make it seem like an organism has a fondness for something, actually meaning that it thrives in a certain environment.

A thermophile lives in extremely hot areas such as the thermal vents on the ocean floor. Want to take a crack at halophyte? That one is a bit tricky, but it uses the word for salt. There are plants that thrive in saline conditions inhospitable to many other plants.

Athel Tamarisk, iNaturalist / Xochitl Zambrano (CC BY 4.0)
Athel tamarisk is one of those stubborn plants that lives in deserts and is found in many parts of the world. One of its handels is the Athel pine, and it does resemble pine in some ways. It is also useful as a windbreak, and since it doesn't burn easily, it can be used to hinder fire. When it lives in saline conditions, it actually gives off salt! Athel tamarisk was designed by the Master Engineer to utilize resources and throw off what is unhelpful. Saying "it evolved" is also unhelpful — and unscientific.

Al-Handawi and her team members stated in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the Athel tamarisk “survives in arid, hypersaline conditions by excreting concentrated solutions of ions as droplets on its surface that crystallize into salt crystals and fall off the branches.”

As a desert day progresses, the tamarisk becomes encrusted in white crystals. Al-Handawi thought the chemicals of the excreted salts might have something to do with the dew from this plant. Science News reported:

You can read it all at "Salty Sweat in a Desert Plant." Be sure to come back for the next section or I'll be in-salt-ed.

Tears are often associated with crying, and crying with emotions. Indeed, there seems to be a stigma around it in Western societies. Especially for men. "No, I'm not crying. Allergies." Of course, allergies, colds, and so forth also produce tears. Or a particle blown by the wind into your eye. Tears wash things away. They also release cortisol and adrenaline. Mrs. Sea Turtle cries.

Sea Turtle, Flickr / NOAA's National Ocean Service (Public Domain)

Well, it's not really crying when she releases tears. Sea turtles are constantly inundated with salts. Some are needed of course, but when turtles swallow sea water, that salt needs to be expelled. Like the plant mentioned above, they were designed by the Creator with an ingenious method of coping with salt.

Imagine trying to maintain proper hydration for your body against potentially crushing marine osmosis pressures while the surrounding ocean physically attracts—threatening to suck out—your body’s internal fluids. If you’re a sea turtle, don’t count on imaginary evolutionary luck (natural selection) to invent a real-world rescue.

How do sea turtles adapt to their physical environment since they spend most of their lives in salty ocean water? They’re able to survive because the total concentration of various mineral salts in their bodies is perhaps only a half to a third of their habitat’s salinity, and the concentrations of their major chemical elements are quite different from those found in seawater.

The entire article can be read by swimming over to "Why Do Female Sea Turtles Cry Salty Tears?"