Stocks & Trading Education Hub What are Crypto Whales? And what are they buying?
Maryam Jìnádù
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The crypto ecosystem is abuzz with new words, abbreviations, and slang like DeFi, FOMO, and HODL. Another such trending new word is the term “Crypto Whales.”

While newbies may ask, “What are Crypto Whales?,” experienced traders often have an overall but limited idea of what crypto whales represent. Although the word “whales” was derived from the large sea mammal, there is more to the term than its origin or usage.

If you want to know the significance of crypto whales, their strategies, and how to protect yourself from whale manipulation, we’ve got you covered. In this piece, we discuss the crypto whale’s classifications, types, and roles. Enjoy the read!

What are Crypto Whales?

Cryptocurrency whale, often shortened as “crypto whale” or “whale,” refers to individuals or entities in the crypto community who possess substantial quantities of cryptocurrency. Thus, these whales have significant crypto holdings that can impact the market positively or negatively. Take a look at how whales operate.

Definition and explanation of crypto whales

In the cryptocurrency markets, the word “whales” is a general term that describes individuals, groups, or entities that own substantial quantities of cryptocurrencies in their digital wallets. This term identifies a trader with considerable holdings and the potential to sway market dynamics with their transaction sizes.

Understanding their significance and impact on the market

In the crypto market, whales are crucial in influencing price shifts. A whale’s significant buy/sell actions will often trigger notable market fluctuations and impact the trading choices of traders with smaller holdings and investors who use day trading apps.

A single whale’s extensive holdings can reduce liquidity, while sizable transactions can lead to market volatility. Also, if whales sell smaller holdings over time, they distort coin values. 

 Your capital is at risk.

Classifications of Crypto Whales

Generally, crypto whales are classified based on their cryptocurrency holdings, forms of ownership, and activities. In subsequent sections, we move past “What are crypto whales” to highlight the different crypto whale classifications. Enjoy!

Different types of crypto whales based on their holdings and activities

Crypto whales, either as individuals, groups, or entities, can be classified based on their holdings and activities into the following:

  • Trader Whales: These whales frequently buy and sell cryptocurrencies to profit from price fluctuations and often make large trades that impact the market.
  • Long-Term “Hodlers”: These whales hold onto their cryptocurrencies for a long term, regardless of short-term price fluctuations, because they believe in the future potential of their cryptocurrency.
  • Mining Whales: These whales amass significant cryptocurrency holdings through mining activities that validate transactions on the blockchain network.
  • ICO Whales: These individuals acquired a substantial amount of a cryptocurrency by participating in an initial coin offering (ICO) or token sale.
  • Staking Whales: These whales participate in proof-of-stake networks to earn rewards for supporting the network’s operations.

Differentiating between retail investors, institutional whales, and exchange whales

Generally, a broad classification of crypto market participants are; retail investors, institutional whales, and exchange whales. These classifications further answer the popular question, “What are whales in crypto?”

Retail Investors are individual investors who invest personal funds in cryptocurrencies. They build their investments by purchasing smaller amounts for their financial goals. Collectively, retail investors impact trends, but individually, their influence is limited and almost negligible.

On the other hand, institutional whales are large financial institutions, investment funds, or companies that invest significant capital in cryptocurrencies. Because they own substantial resources, their purchases or sales generally affect market prices.

For exchange whales, these are entities such as exchanges or traders who hold substantial cryptocurrency amounts within their exchange network. Thus, their activities contribute to the liquidity and volatility of the exchange platform.

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Crypto Whale Accumulation and Distribution

Since whales hold a significant amount of cryptocurrencies, whale accumulation is a large acquisition of crypto assets through substantial purchases. This reflects the whale’s belief in potential price increases, which may be linked to future announcements or developments. For example, if a whale accumulates $50 million worth of tokens within hours, this may suggest that the whale is optimistic about future token price growth due to specific market events. Here’s how whales accumulate a substantial amount of cryptocurrencies.

How whales in crypto accumulate large amounts of cryptocurrencies

Whales traditionally accumulate substantial amounts of cryptocurrencies by distorting the market. So while other traders are busy googling “what are whales in crypto,” Whales are busy impacting the crypto market by placing large sell orders below existing ones, causing the price to drop and the market to become volatile. Upon this volatility, the whale withdraws its initial sell orders, stabilizing the market at their desired price. Other methods of acquisition include:

  • Early adoption
  • Mining
  • Trading
  • ICO participation
  • Leverage
  • Partnerships
  • Acquisition of exchanges or pools.

 Strategies used by crypto whales to distribute their holdings

To break even, crypto whales must find ways to distribute their accumulated holdings. The strategies they adopt to distribute their holdings include:

  • Market Sell Orders: This is a gradual sale to avoid abrupt price drops.
  • Dark Pools: These are private platforms for discreet trades.
  • OTC Trading: This involves direct trade with institutions or individuals for privacy.
  • Convertible Bonds: This strategy offers bonds that can be converted into cryptocurrency.
  • Token Swaps: This strategy is for trading holdings with other large holders.
  • Buybacks and Burns: This involves repurchasing and burning tokens.

 Your capital is at risk.

Impact on Price Movements of Whales in Crypto

Crypto whales own substantial digital assets or funds that have market-changing potential. Thus, a whale’s token purchase can immediately increase its price. On the other hand, if whales sell their large holdings of a token, its price will equally decline. Let’s take a closer look.

Analyzing how whale activities can influence cryptocurrency prices

Let’s move on from discussing “what are whales in crypto” to how whales’ activities impact crypto market prices in the following ways:

  • Price Volatility: Whales’ large orders cause rapid price shifts, influencing short-term trends via market reactions.
  • Market Manipulation Concerns: Whales’ substantial holdings can raise manipulation concerns that lead to market instability.
  • Liquidity Provision: Whales enhance liquidity by enabling smooth trading for smaller participants, thus boosting market efficiency.
  • Investor Sentiment: Whales’ moves affect the general market’s investor sentiment. Their bullish actions boost confidence and buying, and by selling, they can induce bearish sentiment and fast sales.

Examples of price manipulation and its effects on the market

In a bid to make profits, crypto whales often manipulate prices in two primary ways:

  • Sell Wall Effect: This occurs when whales set a massive low-price sell order, which induces volatility and lower prices. Thus, a chain reaction follows as panic selling occurs. An example of this effect happened In February 2021, when Ether’s value briefly dropped on Kraken due to a single whale’s large sell-off.
  • FOMO Capitalization: Whales artificially inflate token prices with big buy orders and spark demand, creating FOMO among other investors who rush in, further creating profitable selling opportunities for the crypto whales.

 Your capital is at risk.

On-Chain Analysis

To use on-chain analysis means to access blockchain data, like transaction records and wallet balances, to assess market sentiment. This analysis helps in making investment decisions. This section discusses how you can maximize the on-chain analysis to identify crypto whales.

Using on-chain data to identify whale addresses

To monitor blockchain whales, you must first identify substantial crypto network transactions. This involves assessing block size (data sent in a transaction) and transaction value (amount of crypto sent). These values are publicly accessible on the blockchain, and swift, large transactions indicate crypto whales.

The transaction address is another data from chain analysis that can help you identify a crypto whale. If an address holds a large amount of a popular cryptocurrency, it’s likely a whale’s wallet.

Tools and platforms for tracking whale transactions

Tracking crypto whales’ movements can provide market insights into value and price changes. Using a crypto whale tracker generally simplifies this analysis. Here are five tracker tools you can try:

  • ClankApp
  • Whalemap
  • Whale Alert
  • Whale Watchers
  • WhaleBot Alerts

 Your capital is at risk.

Order Book Analysis

Order book analysis is another method to identify crypto whales like on-chain analysis. An order book is a digital record of buy and sell orders of a particular asset based on price. It displays the number of shares at each price level. Thus creating market transparency among market participants without breaching their anonymity. Subsequent sections discuss more details on how this works.

Understanding how order book data reveals whale presence

Order book data can reveal the involvement of whales in the crypto market in the following ways:

  • Large Buy/Sell Orders: Whales place significantly larger buy or sell orders, which stand out from retail orders in the order book.
  • Order Clusters: Clusters of orders around huge price levels is a good signal of whale trading.
  • Frequent Order Cancels: Frequent order placement and cancellation is a good indication of whales testing market reactions.
  • Quick Transfers: Swift and sizable crypto transfers to or from exchanges indicate that crypto whales are preparing or concluding trades.
  • Large Spread: Wide spread between the bid and ask prices reflect a whale’s influence with substantial orders.

Spotting whale-sized buy-and-sell walls

Buy and sell walls often indicate attempts to manipulate market prices through large buy or sell orders, often executed by “whales,” who are also major holders. Whales can artificially create these walls to influence asset prices. They work by presenting a large order that aligns with their desired price and potentially affects other traders’ behavior. For example, a whale might place a buy order for 500 BTC at $50,000, prompting sellers to set sell orders at the same price, thus stabilizing around $50,000.

Here’s how to spot artificial buy and sell walls:

  • Rapid Appearance: If a large wall quickly emerges and vanishes, it suggests a single, large order aimed at manipulation rather than actually accumulating orders at that price.
  • Duration on Order Book: If an order has been on the book for a significant time, it’s likely a genuine attempt to trade at that price rather than manipulate the market. But if otherwise, then it’s likely a whale’s attempt to manipulate the cryptocurrency’s price.

 Your capital is at risk.

Pros and Cons of Whale Watching

Before we get into the pros and cons of crypto whale watching, let’s first define it. “Crypto whale watching” is observing the actions of prominent holders (whales) within the cryptocurrency market. We want you to know how to see what crypto whales are buying and its repercussions, so we’ll head on to discuss its pros and cons.

Benefits of monitoring whale activities for market insights

 Pros of whale watching include:

  • Gaining Market Insights: Whale watching provides valuable insights into market trends and potential price movements. Large trades by whales can indicate important support or resistance levels.
  • Early Market Indicators: Whales often make moves before major market shifts. Observing their activities might provide early indicators of potential market trends.
  • Risk Assessment Tool: Tracking whale movements can help other investors assess potential market risks. Unusually large sell-offs by whales might signal a bearish trend, while strong buying can indicate bullish sentiment.
  • Learning Opportunity: Analyzing whale behavior can be an educational experience for traders, both novice and experienced, and it will help them understand how large market participants operate, their strategies, and technical analysis.

Risks and potential drawbacks of relying on whale data

Despite its benefits, crypto whale watching has downsides, especially when investors rely solely on whale data.

 Here are the cons:

  • Market Manipulation: Whales can manipulate prices, especially in illiquid markets. Relying solely on their activities can lead to poor trading decisions if whales manipulate the market.
  • Misinterpretation: Not all whale activities are indicative of market trends. Whales might also engage in arbitrage, hedging, or portfolio rebalancing, which might not reflect broader market sentiment.
  • False Signals: Whale activities can occasionally result in false signals, leading traders to make incorrect decisions based on their actions.
  • Lack of Transparency: Whales might use techniques like spoofing to deceive other market participants, making it difficult to interpret their intentions accurately.
  • Data Lag: By the time whale activities become visible in the public order book, the market might have already reacted to their moves, reducing the effectiveness of using this data for real-time decision-making.

 Your capital is at risk.

Market Sentiment and Following the Whales

As mentioned, spotting crypto whales can be challenging due to their innovative tactics. However, with blockchain transparency, traders can analyze trading patterns and monitor large transactions to identify potential whale activity. In the subsequent sections, we discuss how to beat market sentiments and how you can tactfully follow crypto whales.

How retail investors can gauge market sentiment by observing whale actions

As discussed earlier, following crypto whales can benefit investors in several ways. This method provides insights into market sentiment and potential profit opportunities.

Whale trading actions can sway investor opinions, influencing upward or downward asset prices. Thus, observing whale behavior can also offer hints of non-public information that could impact the market. This can give you early insights into developments that will aid in making informed investment decisions. For example, a whale's strategic trade could indicate undisclosed information about an impending partnership, allowing investors to anticipate potential market movements and maximize profits.

Another way to gauge market sentiment is to follow the social media posts of specific whales. While some whales stay discreet about their market moves, others are vocal on social media. Trades can maximize the information shared to gauge whale presence and activity.

The importance of avoiding blind following of whale moves

While following crypto whales can provide insights, relying solely on their actions for trading decisions is quite risky. We have emphasized through this article that whales can manipulate the crypto market for personal gain by driving up prices before selling tokens that could eventually cause others a loss.

Informational asymmetry disadvantages smaller traders, as whales, have exclusive information and may engage in pump-and-dump schemes. Thus, thorough fundamental research is essential to avoid falling victim to such tactics. Additionally, like any investor, whales might make emotional rather than rational decisions, so blindly following them without proper research can lead to poor investment choices.

 Your capital is at risk.

Strategies for Trading Around Whales

To avoid following crypto whales blindly and still maximize the benefits of following, here are proven strategies that will help you navigate the market:

  • Thorough Research: Make time to understand the technology, use case, team, and trends of the coin or token you plan to trade. Remember, informed decisions stem from knowledge.
  • Diversify Holdings: Spread your investments across various crypto projects and ecosystems to reduce risk and increase the long-term chance of success. For instance, you can explore the best crypto presales available in the market.
  • Plan Entry and Exit Points: Set clear entry and exit points before entering trades. Stick to your strategy, and avoid emotional or hype-driven decisions.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up with market news and developments as external factors impact prices, and influence timely decisions.
  • Practice Risk Management: Invest only what you can afford to lose. We advise that you trade responsibly.

Risk management techniques in a volatile market influenced by whales

Whales generally create volatility in the crypto market. Thus, traders need to learn to manage risks in a volatile market. Here are risk management techniques you can practice: 

  • Spread your investments across various cryptocurrencies and assets
  • Allocate a portion of your portfolio per trade to limit losses.
  • Set automatic sell points to minimize losses during sudden price drops.
  • Adjust orders as prices move to secure profits and potential gains
  • Break large orders into smaller chunks to lessen the market impact.
  • Monitor market news and social media for whale activity updates.
  • Assess risk tolerance and adjust strategies accordingly.
  • Invest in fixed amounts regularly to reduce the impact of volatility.

Strategies for aligning trades with potential whale movements

Aligning trades with potential whale movements has many benefits. You can maximize your trading profit without asking, “what crypto are whales buying” if you study whale movements well enough. Here are strategies for careful analysis and observation to align trades with potential whale movements:

  • Technical Analysis: Identify support, resistance, and trends for potential whale movements.
  • Volume Analysis: Watch out for sudden volume spikes indicating whale activity.
  • Market Sentiment: Trade based on events that attract whales' attention.
  • Real-Time Monitoring: Use trackers to study sudden price changes linked to whales.
  • Trend Confirmation: Confirm trends before trading on short-term fluctuations.
  • Order Book Monitoring: Watch for large buy/sell walls or shifts.

There you go! Now you not only know how to see what crypto whales are buying, but you also know why they are buying them.

 Your capital is at risk.

What are Crypto Whales buying?

Their actions have significant sway over market movements, often leading to substantial price fluctuations. So, what exactly are these crypto titans investing in?

Recent trends suggest that whales are diversifying their portfolios. Bitcoin, being the original and most renowned cryptocurrency, has always been a favorite. Its limited supply and wide acceptance make it a cornerstone of many whale portfolios. Ethereum, with its versatile smart contracts and the promise of Ethereum 2.0 upgrades, also attracts considerable whale attention.

However, the intrigue doesn't end with the big players. With the rise of DeFi (Decentralized Finance) projects, tokens related to lending, borrowing, and yield farming are seeing investments from these affluent participants. Projects like Uniswap, Aave, and Compound have witnessed notable inflows.

Furthermore, NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) have exploded in popularity, with unique digital art and collectibles being sold for staggering sums. Whales have been known to acquire rare NFTs as both a status symbol and a potential investment.

It's essential to note that while whale activities can provide insights, they also introduce volatility.

Market Evolution and Regulation

Whales substantially influence the evolving crypto market due to their significant holdings and impact on market behavior. So, let's dive and see how crypto whales can influence the market's evolution and the regulation measures that may arise.

The role of whales in the maturing crypto market

We have emphasized the influence of crypto whales in the current market; based on this, we can project their roles in the maturing crypto market. These roles include:

  • Liquidity Providers: Whales contribute to market liquidity by making large trades. Their ability to execute significant buy or sell orders helps maintain smooth price movements.
  • Price Discovery: Whales' substantial trades impact price discovery. Their actions can lead to price shifts that reflect changing market sentiment and supply-demand dynamics.
  • Market Stability: Whales with a long-term perspective help stabilize the market by holding through short-term volatility. This steadies prices and instills confidence in other investors.
  • Funding Innovation: Whales often fund blockchain projects, startups, and defi apps. Their investments provide essential funding for the development of new technologies.
  • Volatility Impact: Whales' significant trades can contribute to market volatility, especially when they make sudden large orders or sell-offs. However, their actions can also bring attention and trading activity.
  • Market Depth: Large holders increase the market depth by sustaining the market's ability to handle large buy or sell orders without causing significant price changes

Regulatory implications and measures to mitigate whale manipulation

Regulatory measures are crucial to prevent whale manipulation in the crypto market and ensure fairness and transparency. To ensure optimal transparency from large holders, we expect more anti-manipulation laws, reporting mandates for exchanges, and advanced market surveillance tools.

We also recommend the following measures to mitigate crypto whale manipulation:

  • Enforced transaction limits
  • Flash crash prevention
  • Strict market-making guidelines,
  • Thorough oversight of algorithmic trading

We look forward to more collaborative efforts, educational campaigns, and strong penalties that can contribute to a healthier trading environment that maintains innovation and market integrity. This will ensure a safe, secure, and fair trading ground for all, so no trader has to ask, “what crypto are whales buying?”

 Your capital is at risk.

Crypto Whales - eToro Complete Guide

Now that you know all about crypto whales, we have no doubt you can't wait to get on the next available platform to start trading crypto. eToro is a safe, licensed, and reputable crypto and paper trading app for anyone to practice and make a premium profit. Here are the simple steps to signing up on eToro:

  • Step 1: Go to the eToro "Join Now" page etoro homepage
  • Step 2: Choose a username, enter your email address, and set a password. Alternatively, you can sign up with your Facebook or Google accounts.
  • Step 3: Check eToro's Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy, and tick the boxes.
  • Step 4: Click on the 'Create Account' button.
  • Step 5: Check your email inbox and verify your email address.

What are Crypto Whales? - Conclusion

We have taken a long ride through the intriguing world of crypto whales, and we bet it's not so complex anymore. We hope you can maximize the information in this review to enjoy a safe, secure, and profitable crypto journey. With our proven strategies, we believe that you will do just fine.

Remember, a good crypto trading platform is as good as excellent trading strategies. Apart from being a popular penny stock app, eToro is a reputable crypto trading platform with a user-friendly interface, analytical tools, and excellent trading fees. If you want to explore the crypto market, we recommend signing up on eToro to start your trading journey.


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Maryam Jìnádù

Maryam Jìnádù

Maryam Jinadu is a prolific crypto and fintech content writer who has been in the space since 2018. Her sharp insights and creative takes have earned praise from top industry publications, with her work appearing on notable sites like TradingPlatforms, Dappgambl, BuyShares, Swapzone - just to name a few.