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What are Bitcoin whales and how to spot them?

by SuperiorInvest

What are Bitcoin whales?

Bitcoin whales are people or organizations with significant holdings of Bitcoin (BTC) that are able to influence the market through their trading tactics.

The term “Bitcoin whale” is used colloquially to indicate a holder with a significant stake compared to smaller participants, often referred to as “smaller fish” within the market. The owner of the wallet or group of wallets controlled by an entity can be an individual or a group that pools funds to make large investments.

Their vast holdings have been accumulated through mining, early investments and other methods. Whales have access to significant holdings of Bitcoin, giving them the power to manipulate the market through significant purchases or sales of assets that result in price fluctuations. Whale abundance and extreme volatility are frequently linked in the cryptocurrency space.

How much money turns a cryptocurrency holder into a Bitcoin whale?

A person or organization is considered a “Bitcoin whale” if they own a significant amount of Bitcoin; however, the threshold for this classification has not been set. The widely recognized benchmark to be considered a Bitcoin whale is 1,000 BTC. This threshold is commonly cited by cryptocurrency analysis companies like Glassnode, when identifying network entities (groups of addresses) with a minimum of 1000 Bitcoin.

As of March 2024, the distribution of Bitcoin ownership is highly concentrated. Just three Bitcoin addresses contain between 100,000 and 1 million BTC, for a total of 577,502 BTC. The next 108 largest holders own a combined total of 2,437,765 BTC, with individual holdings ranging between 10,000 and 100,000 BTC. Together, these 111 richest addresses represent approximately 15.34% of the total Bitcoin supply.

Why do Bitcoin whales influence the market?

Whales exert a significant influence on the dynamics of their market. Their huge holdings give them the power to influence the supply and demand of Bitcoin, causing price fluctuations in their operations. When whales increase their Bitcoin reserve, prices tend to skyrocket, while selling parts of their holdings can cause declines.

By holding substantial amounts of cryptocurrency, crypto whales can create scarcity, increasing demand and value. Large transactions made by whales can cause significant price changes, guiding the actions of other traders.

These whales often operate in public view, and their wallets are tracked by the broader trading community. As a result, your trading decisions or anticipated moves can cause major price swings as traders follow your lead.

Some Bitcoin whales opt for over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency trading to minimize their impact on prices, while others take advantage of exchanges to manipulate markets by signaling large purchases or sales.

What trading strategies do Bitcoin whales use?

Crypto whales stand out from ordinary investors because they take a long-term view of the cryptocurrency market and often use advanced investment tactics.

Market manipulation

Big Bitcoin players occasionally engage in pump-and-dump schemes, which involve buying large amounts of Bitcoin at once to boost its price and then selling it at a profit, leaving other investors with losses.

Additionally, they can start rumors on social media to increase interest and drive up the price to attract smaller investors to join. Bitcoin whales eventually sell out, causing a price drop and losses for small investors.


Whales can accumulate Bitcoin gradually by making calculated purchases at low prices or during market declines. Over time, they increase their Bitcoin holdings by taking advantage of opportunities to purchase large volumes of Bitcoin at advantageous prices.

Long term holding

By holding Bitcoin for an extended period of time, whales can protect themselves from inflation or benefit from the potential long-term increase in Bitcoin's value.


Beyond Bitcoin, some whales diversify their cryptocurrency holdings by investing in other digital assets to spread risk and potentially profit from various areas of the cryptocurrency market.

short and long hunt

When Bitcoin whales predict a price drop, they can use short-term strategies to sell massive amounts of the cryptocurrency, scaring away smaller investors and sending the market tumbling further.

Instead, they can use long-term strategies by strategically acquiring Bitcoin over time, which will build positive momentum and encourage smaller investors to join the market, thus driving the price up.

Stop-loss hunting

Stop-loss hunting involves deliberately manipulating the price of Bitcoin to trigger stop-loss orders from other traders, allowing whales to buy at discounted prices before the market rebounds.

How to spot a Bitcoin whale

Whales frequently move funds secretly, using innovative methods to hide their identities and the amount of money they possess. However, the transparency of blockchain and various Whale Alert platforms allows these whales to be identified. However, identifying them requires deep exploration of the blockchain and careful monitoring, called on-chain analysis.

Here are some ways to spot a Bitcoin whale swimming somewhere nearby.

Search for large operations

To gain valuable information and make informed investment decisions, traders and investors can closely monitor the actions of large Bitcoin holders, a process known as “whale watching.”

Large trades made by whales often cause sharp price drops or increases. When a large amount of cryptocurrency moves, it is often because these whales are transferred between wallets or exchanges. The public Bitcoin ledger can help access all whale transactions and identify large amounts of Bitcoin being moved.

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