Whale: Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research August 20, 2023

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  • In cryptocurrency, a "whale" describes an individual or entity capable of influencing market prices due to holding a significant amount of a particular cryptocurrency
  • Cryptocurrency whales emerged alongside the growth of the crypto market, and their actions can affect liquidity, market depth and trading volumes
  • Whales can manipulate prices by selling or buying large amounts of a cryptocurrency, but not all whale activity is malicious
  • Whales' ability to impact market prices, engage in manipulation and initiate large-scale transactions sets them apart from regular investors


In cryptocurrency, a "whale" describes an individual or entity capable of influencing market prices due to holding a significant amount of a particular cryptocurrency. The vast holdings of these individuals or entities give them the power to influence the market, and these actions can trigger significant price movements and market trends. Whales are often associated with substantial wealth, and associated trading decisions can have far-reaching consequences for other market participants.

A Brief History

The emergence of cryptocurrency whales coincided with the expansion of the crypto market. In the early days of Bitcoin, when the market was relatively small, a few early adopters accumulated significant amounts of the digital currency. These early adopters, known as "Bitcoin whales," held a substantial portion of the total supply of bitcoin, granting them considerable influence over the market.

Over time, as the crypto market expanded and new cryptocurrencies were introduced, the presence of whales extended beyond bitcoin. Ether, XRP and other prominent cryptocurrencies also experienced the emergence of influential entities that held substantial amounts of these digital assets. As more individuals and institutions recognized the potential of cryptocurrencies, the number of whales increased, amplifying the related impact on the market.

Whale: Everything to Know

To understand whales better, it is essential to explore the characteristics and mechanisms through which they exert influence. Whales typically hold a large percentage of a particular cryptocurrency, often referred to as a "wallet." These wallets are publicly visible on the blockchain, allowing observers to monitor the movements of these influential entities.

Whales possess the ability to manipulate the market due to significant holdings. For example, a whale may decide to sell a considerable amount of a specific cryptocurrency, causing the price to plummet as the market reacts to the sudden influx of supply. Conversely, a whale can also initiate a buying spree, driving up prices as demand increases.

It is worth noting that not all whale activity is manipulative or malicious. Some whales may hold positions long-term, contributing to the stability of the market. Additionally, whales can play a vital role in funding projects and driving innovation within the crypto space.

To identify whale activity, analysts often monitor large transactions occurring on the blockchain. A sudden surge in transaction volume from a particular wallet can indicate the presence of a whale. By tracking these transactions, market observers can gain insights into the intentions and strategies of these influential entities.

Getting Started

To understand the concept of cryptocurrency whales, it is essential to grasp the decentralized nature of digital currencies. Unlike traditional financial systems, cryptocurrencies operate on decentralized networks, utilizing blockchain technology to record transactions. This decentralized structure allows individuals and entities to hold and transfer digital assets without the need for intermediaries like banks.

As the popularity of cryptocurrencies grew, so did the number of investors and the amount of capital flowing into the market. Some early adopters and institutional investors accumulated substantial amounts of cryptocurrencies during the early stages when prices were relatively low. These accumulations granted them significant influence over the market, earning them the title of "whales."

Unique Aspects

Cryptocurrency whales possess several unique aspects that distinguish them from regular investors. One crucial aspect is the ability to impact market prices. Due to substantial holdings, whales can create significant price movements by buying or selling large amounts of a particular cryptocurrency. When a whale places a sizable buy order, it can drive up the price as demand increases. Conversely, if a whale decides to sell a significant portion of holdings, it can trigger a price decline due to the increased supply.

Another unique aspect of cryptocurrency whales is the potential to engage in market manipulation. While the cryptocurrency market is becoming more regulated, it still faces challenges in detecting and preventing manipulation. Whales can exploit this by executing coordinated trading strategies to influence prices to affect them favorably. By strategically buying or selling large amounts of a cryptocurrency, they can create artificial price movements and take advantage of other market participants.

Moreover, cryptocurrency whales often have the means to initiate large-scale transactions. This ability to move substantial amounts of digital assets can impact liquidity and market depth. Whales may choose to move holdings between wallets, exchanges or even execute over-the-counter (OTC) trades, which can have ripple effects on the market. These actions can influence trading volumes and potentially lead to increased volatility.


  • Market Liquidity - Whales with significant holdings can inject liquidity into the market by executing large trades. This liquidity can help stabilize prices and facilitate smoother transactions for other participants.
  • Price Manipulation - While price manipulation is generally seen as a disadvantage, it can also be advantageous for whales. By strategically buying or selling large amounts of a cryptocurrency, whales can influence the market and potentially profit from price fluctuations.
  • Early Adoption Benefits - Whales who accumulate substantial holdings early in a cryptocurrency's life cycle may experience significant financial gains if the value of that cryptocurrency appreciates over time. This early adoption advantage allows them to capitalize on this foresight and potentially generate substantial returns.
  • Network Influence - Whales often hold a considerable stake in a specific cryptocurrency, granting them influence over the network's decision-making processes. This influence can enable them to shape the direction of the project, propose changes, or support initiatives aligned with specific interests.


  • Market Volatility - The actions of cryptocurrency whales can contribute to market volatility. When whales engage in large-scale buying or selling, it can trigger price swings that may affect other market participants negatively. This volatility can make it challenging for smaller investors to navigate the market with confidence.
  • Unequal Distribution of Wealth - The concentration of wealth among cryptocurrency whales can lead to wealth inequality within the crypto ecosystem. The significant holdings of these entities may limit the opportunities for smaller investors and hinder the decentralization ideals that cryptocurrencies aim to promote.
  • Manipulative Practices - Some whales may engage in manipulative practices, such as pump-and-dump schemes, where they artificially inflate the price of a cryptocurrency before selling holdings at a profit. These schemes can deceive and harm unsuspecting investors who may be influenced by the price movements caused by whales.
  • Centralization Risks - The accumulation of significant amounts of a cryptocurrency by a few entities can pose risks of centralization. If a small number of whales control a substantial portion of the supply, they may exert undue influence over the network's governance and decision-making processes, potentially compromising the decentralization principles that underpin cryptocurrencies.