Emperor Penguins - Escape Velocity

Aside from being clumsy on land, when underwater, penguins are highly maneuverable and can reach speeds of up to 18 feet per second underwater allowing them to evade predators with ease. How do penguins do this?

The secret is locked away in their feathers. They have a dense feather coating not only for heat insulation but for packing air inside. The dense feather layer contains a main stem and smaller downy feather-barbs branching off allowing for tiny air bubbles to be trapped. When the penguins want to increase their speed, they simply release the air bubbles (with muscles attached to the feathers) creating a friction reducing pocket around them nearly tripling their speed.

How cool would it be to launch out of water like that at 18 feet/second? I’m not sure I have enough protection for the landing though. Check out the infographic that accompanies the video I’ve linked below.

Emperor Penguins Speed Launch Out of Water - Video
Penguins Hit The Gas - National Geographic Infographic

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