Gentoo penguins near Danco Island, Antarctica
© David Merron/Getty Image
Jumping with style
Unlike most birds, penguins can't fly, although this one sure looks like it's trying. But to misquote Woody from Toy Story, that’s not flying - that’s jumping with style! These gentoo penguins on Danco Island, just off the Antarctic Peninsula, were photographed leaping out of the water as they returned to their nests for breeding season, which starts in November. They’re on our homepage today to mark Penguin Awareness Day.
While other birds are aerodynamically shaped, penguins’ bodies are aquadynamic, smoothly gliding through water thanks to their streamlined shape and flipper-like wings. Gentoos are the fastest penguins, and can swim up to 22 mph. While most birds have hollow bones to help them stay aloft, penguin bones grow solid as they mature into adults. The added weight of these dense bones helps them stay submerged as they dive into the cold Antarctic waters in search of a snack.