Couldn't find element LayerAd

Error finding content

Antarctic Postcard from the Field: Faster Than Walking - Windows to the Universe

   Image courtesy of Jean Pennycook

From: Jean Pennycook
Cape Royds, January 12, 2007

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.

Go to the Next Postcard

Postcards from the Field: Antarctica

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Sea of Chicks

The colony is a sea of chicks. The older ones are too big for the nests and spend most of their time sleeping, their energy being used for growing. The others stand close to their parents, waiting for...more

Penguin Colonies

This is Ross Island, a volcanic island embedded in the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Adelie penguins are found all around Antarctica, but we will be filming the documentary at the breeding colonies shown...more

View from our home

This is a view of the Adelie penguin breeding colony at Cape Royds in Antarctica. In the foreground you see Shackleton’s hut. Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team of explorers tried and failed to cross the...more

Time to Raise the Chicks

We are at Cape Royds, Ross Island, Antarctica, a penguin breeding colony of several thousand Adelie penguins. This female is 8 years old and has been a successful breeder in the past. She was first seen...more

Ice, Fire, and Penguins

Cape Royds penguin breeding colony is in the shadow of Mt Erebus, one of three volcanoes on Ross Island and the only active one. Antarctica Explorer James Clark Ross named two of the volcanoes after his...more

Proud Parents

At long last the moment we have been waiting for, the first Adelie chick of the season. We have been scanning nest sites for broken egg shells, evidence that a chick has hatched. On Dec 12, 2006 we sighted...more

A Family of Penguins

Chicks are hatching everyday now and the colony is bubbling with new life. The air is filled with the songs of penguins returning from feeding and the growls of predatory Skua birds as they circle the...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF