Penguins! Aren’t they beautiful creatures? Well as beautiful as the penguins look the more beautiful abilities they have. Well, a questions usually pops out in our minds that how do penguins swim.
Firstly, lets confirm that do penguins really swim? Yes, we can surely say that most of the species of penguins can swim in water. With passing time, the penguins have adopted successful mechanisms for making their swimming skills better. Penguins have basically, streamlined body shape, webbed feet with a big head and a narrow neck that makes them really good at swimming. Most penguins swim at average speed of 4 to 6 miles per hour but the Gentoo Penguins are the quickest swimmers with speed of 22 miles per hour.
Now let’s see the details of the swimming properties of penguins.
Can penguins really swim?
Actually if we notice we can see that a penguin has a body of a bird. So they are birds that cannot fly but can swim pretty well. As penguins are birds, they have wings. With wings and a streamlined body as an addition, penguins are able to swim really well. So one can say that a penguin flies in water.
Do all species of penguins swim?
If we do some research on penguins’ life, we can see that swimming is necessary for penguins therefore most of the species of penguins are swimmers however with the exception of some species of penguins that live in total dry places don’t need to swim. Therefore, we can conclude that nearly all species of penguins can swim in water.
Why do penguins need to swim in water?
Penguins are birds that mainly consume small fish, sea life, squids and small shrimplike animals called “krill” and crustaceans. These are mainly found in water. So to search for its food, a penguin has to dive in water for which it swims. There can also be other reasons for penguins to dive in water and swim. A penguin’s body is covered with feathers therefore for a penguin living in an area where the temperature is usually high, it is necessary to dive in water and swim for some time to neutralize its body temperature.
How long can penguins swim for?
Penguins are full of abilities. They can amaze you easily by its traits. As far as swimming is concerned, penguins are the experts. They can expert swimmers with addition to the support that their body provides. They can stay for very long in water. Some penguins stay in the water for as long as 5 months, swimming thousands of miles. They can even sleep in the water. They come ashore to breed and grow new feathers. Other penguin species, like the Gentoo Penguins, like to swim below the surface of 2 minutes and then take a short breathing break at the surface for 30 seconds.
Are penguins only birds that can swim underwater?
Penguins are included in the group of flightless birds. Flightless birds are the birds that cannot fly as the name indicates. This group consists of exact 60 species of birds that include ostrich, emo, penguins, kiwi and many other birds.
Actually swimming requires some demands from birds. To be an efficient swimmer, a bird must have webbed feet to be used as pads as well as thin feathers, solid bones and wings that could be used as propellers. Penguins ideally have all these properties so this makes it an ideal and efficient swimmer. Unfortunately, we cannot see these properties in other birds therefore we cannot say that all flightless birds can swim.
How have penguins generated themselves?
Penguins are really fascinating creatures. They possess remarkable abilities that amazes humans. Penguins never cease to impress us with their amazing abilities. Human researchers have gathered data over the past years and they have noticed that the penguins have been seen to generating new abilities to live and they have changed quite a bit over the past years. The present penguin exceeds and excels the past penguins with its amazing abilities.
Penguins Body Adaptations for Swimming
The penguin’s body is especially adapted for swimming. For example, penguins use the small muscles in their feathers to create a tight waterproof layer. These feathers are also coated with a special oil to keep the water out and to reduce the drag. As a result, of this thin layer, the additional air is reduced, so the penguin won’t float in the water while swimming or diving. Also by research, we have seen that the penguin’s bones are quite heavy, so the penguin will be weighted and stay below the surface. The bones counteract the penguin’s fat, layer that keeps it warm but also cause the penguin to float.
The wings of a penguin are more fitted for swimming than flying as mentioned earlier above. In fact, these small wings do the work of flippers or propellers, so we can generally say that the penguins use these wings to fly through the water. These wings move at a more rapid rate and increased speed. Penguins use their well-developed wing muscles to swim through the dense water. Also, the body is penguins is colored as it has worn a torpedo. Actually, this thing has a great advantage for the penguins while swimming. The back side is black colored that mixes with the water color and as a result, this prevents the penguins from different predators while swimming.
Movements for Swimming:
Penguins also use special swimming movements. These special movements allow the penguins to swim with good pace and also efficiently with consumption of less energy. They will bend their heads near their shoulders to keep their body shape compact in the water. Keeping the feet close to the tail also helps the penguin navigate while swimming. When moving towards the land, the penguin uses its webbed feet to help stabilize it during the sudden transition from the water. These movements also allow the penguins to possess quick reflexes in their movements that allows them to dodge their predators and also helps them in hunting their prey.
Use of Senses While Swimming:
Penguins use certain senses when swimming. For example, the penguin’s vision is optimized and managed for underwater swimming rather than flying through the sky. This enables them to see more clearly through water as compared to other birds, penguins have a great sense of vision in water. Their eyes differentiate between shades of blues, purples and greens, the colors of the oceans and the seas. They also have a secondary see-through eyelid to see clearly underwater and to prevent their eyes underwater. Penguins rely mostly on their vision and their superior sense of hearing to hunt for prey and to evade any predators.
How deep can a penguin swim underwater?
Penguins are very efficient swimmers. By research, it has been seen that normal penguin species jump underwater and their dives are about 100 to 200 meters. But the Emperor Penguin has been seen to make the deepest dive as it dived to about 565 meters. This has been the greatest value of depth dived by any penguin recorded by the researchers. This surely highlights the swimming skills of penguins and shows how skilled they are.
Where do penguins go after diving?
Most researchers had a dire interest in the fact that where do penguins travel and swim to after diving in water. So, for this purpose, special research teams have been developed that have travelled to the penguin habitat and they have used special equipment to monitor the movement of penguins. This fact really makes us curious too that where do penguins go after diving. Do they go and search for food or do they go in water for another purpose?
For this, some researchers attached a female penguin with a collar that was used to monitor its exact location. This was used to know the places where it went. As it was noticed to be absent from its colony for about 76 days. This research was done during the winter season.
The movement trackers showed that the female penguin travelled 2600 km in this time period. But there was another interesting fact about this. It was that the penguin travelled 2600 km in 76 days but interestingly, it only went 130 km away from its colony. It moved mostly forward and backwards during these days.
Now another research was done in the summer season, in which, some adult penguins was attached with a location tracker to monitor their location. In summer, the adult penguins travelled much farther! They tended to go north into very deep waters and then return to the fast-ice off the continent from 180 to more than 550 km west of their colonies. So these researches showed the researchers, that the penguins tend to travel far from their colony during the summer season while they tend to travel close to their colony during the winter season.
How do penguins protect themselves while in cold water?
Feathers on Land:
Penguins have a technique or protecting themselves from low temperature on land. Most penguin species live in large colonies so as a lot of penguins stay close together, their bodies dot feel the cold and they get protected. The other thing that protects the penguins from low temperature are the feathers. The layer of feathers on their body provides enough warmth to defend themselves from low temperature. But now let’s talk about the case of water.
As external fur and feathers are the best source of insulation for the penguins on land similarly, the fat layer in a penguin’s body is the main thing that prevents it in water. Penguins have a layer of fat in its body that keeps its body warm in water. 30% body of penguins consists of fats that can be consumed to keep its body warm. This layer of fat can keep the body functional up to minus 1.9 degree Celsius because minus 2 degrees Celsius is the temperature at which sea water freezes so it would not be possible for a penguin to swim. Therefore, the fatty layer provides the best possible insulation to the body of penguins.
There is also another good fact that keeps the penguins to swim in cold water. Penguins mostly swim using their flippers and feet. But the part of body that is poorly insulated is the flippers and legs. This gives us a problem but it also has a solution in itself. The muscles that operate the flippers are located well deep in the warm region. The flippers are moved by tendons that are connected to the muscles. The muscles control the tendon that move the flippers just like a remote control. So no matter how cold the flippers get, the muscles that operate them will be fine.
Do penguins breath underwater?
Penguins need to dive under water in order catch their food in the ocean. However, penguins need oxygen to breathe under water. Most species of penguins’ dives have been seen to be for about 6 minutes, as their prey is mostly found in the upper layer of water. However, the Emperor Penguin feeds on squid, fish or krill that are found deep under water, so this species of penguin can hold its breath for up to 20 minutes. Unlike seals, penguins are relatively small, so their lungs can hold only so much oxygen. Also, underwater compression affects the penguins’ lungs and air sacs. These airways can only provide 1/3 of the necessary oxygen needed for each dive.
Swimming and Breathing Near Water’s Surface
Penguins swim most efficiently in deeper water levels, but sometimes it may be necessary to swim at the water’s surface. Some species of penguins use a breathing and swimming technique called porpoising, named after porpoises and dolphins. They come up for air, then inhale and exhale rapidly. They then start breathing without interrupting their movement forward. They leap in and out of the water. This porpoising technique is not usually seen in King or Emperor penguins as they can dive for longer period of times.