Faster Than Walking
The penguins at Cape Royds are pleased that the ice has left and they have open water at the colony edge. Since they can not fly, they have spent the last two months walking back and forth across the ice to the open ocean to get food. They can only walk about 2 km/hour and the distance to the open ocean was up to 60 km. Now they step off the rocks and swim to their food. They do not use their feet to paddle like other water birds; instead they use their wings as flippers to “fly” in the water. Penguin have the most hydrodynamic shape of all marine creatures and swim between 7-8 km/hour with short spurts much faster than that. Both the up and down stroke of their wings give them power and they swim using a porpoise style of motion, under the water, then out to breath, then under again as you see in the picture.
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Postcards from the Field: Antarctica