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Emperor Penguins Launch from the Ocean

An amazing adaptation
© Christopher Michel FCC View Large

These Emperor Penguins feed on fish and squid in the icy ocean. Getting into the sea is easy, but getting out is another story. How does a penguin haul its plump, 80-pound body up and over icy ledges that are several feet high, while avoiding nearby predators? Underwater video has revealed an amazing adaptation that allows the penguin to launch out of the water like a feathered torpedo. To understand more, be sure to watch the video — below.
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Full Transcript



Emperor Penguins Launch from the Ocean

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Emperor Penguin colony sounds]

Emperor Penguins thrive in the most frigid regions of Antarctica. To feed themselves, and their chicks, they chase down fish and squid in the icy ocean. 

Getting into the sea is easy — they simply slide along on their bellies to the edge of the ice and plunge in, head first. It’s getting back out that’s the tricky part: how to haul that plump, 80-pound body up and over an icy ledge several feet high, while avoiding the attentions of nearby predators, like hungry leopard seals? [Emperor Penguin colony sounds + underwater acoustic]

Underwater video of the penguins reveals how they do it. 

As it’s swimming briskly upward toward the surface, a penguin releases a layer of air bubbles from under its feathers. These act like a lubricant, reducing friction between the bird’s body and the water. Surrounded by this film of air, the penguin’s upward thrust increases, and it launches itself out of the water like a feathered torpedo, up and over that icy ledge and onto the safety of land. 

It’s just one of the adaptations that allows the Emperor Penguin to survive in one of the most hostile environments on the planet. 

For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.


Penguin sounds sourced from soundboard -
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2015 Tune In to   September 2017    Narrator: Mary McCann

ID# EMPE-01-2015-09-09 EMPE-01

Article and video link at 

Original source of idea in 

Sights & Sounds

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