Desalination takes an enormous amount of energy, and as the water crisis increases, the search for ways to create fresh, clean water from the vast resource of the oceans becomes more intense.
Enter Samuel Ghalan, who has plans to put pesky seagulls to good use. Seagulls have a natural ‘salt-gland’, which enables them to drink salt water. It filters out the salt, letting it run from channels in their beaks, leaving fresh water behind.
“It’s quite ingenious, really, and it makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Seagulls, and other marine animals like turtles and crocodiles, haven’t got another source of fresh water. The thing is, we don’t have many turtles or crocodiles, sure, yet we’ve got a s***-load of gulls,” he says.
His proposal includes capturing and harnessing the gulls in giant ‘rookeries’ that mimic their natural roosting environment. They would then be individually subject to an operation to insert a ‘water-collector’, a custom device to divert a small amount of fresh water from the gland to a collecting satchel. The water collected is then released while the bird is resting.
“It’s only a few mils at a time. The birds don’t seem to mind. While one or two birds doesn’t yield a lot, a couple of thousand would do it. And the best thing is it’s as cheap as chips!”