Preliminary analysis of drinking from seawater sources by free-ranging rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)



Rhesus macaques on Key Lois Island were observed drinking seawater that flowed into four holes they had excavated in the sand. Data were gathered to determine the salinity (TDS) and pH levels of the water and which animals were using the holes. Average TDS level (4,506.8 ± 1,750.8), but not pH (8.1 ± .30) level, of water from the holes differed from the surrounding seawater (TDS = 29,000, pH = 8.0). There were significant variations in TDS and pH levels of water between holes. A total of 249 drinking and 11 digging bouts were observed. Adult females drank and dug most often (46.9% of total bouts). Of the 260 total drinking and digging bouts, 76.1% (N = 198) were concentrated at one hole. This hole had the lowest average TDS level (3,714.2 ± 1,504.4) and one of the highest average pH levels (8.1 ± .29). Age/sex class differences in drinking bout frequencies may have been due to differential social status. We suggest that the holes were excavated to overcome a temporary shortage of provisioned water. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.