Can you guess how quickly the emperor penguins launch themselves out at sea?
Twice as quickly as their normal swimming speeds, swimming speed is 3.4 m/s (7.6 mph). It looks almost as if these rather heavy flightless birds are flying. The flight might be short but how do they do it?
Penguins trap microbubbles within their dense plumage. These microbubbles are trapped when the birds are swimming at the water’s surface. After the penguins have dived deeper into the water, they release these tiny bubbles while they are swimming upwards. The frictional drag is reduced and this allows the penguins to torpedo back out of the water.
Ship builders have been inspired by penguins microbubbles and are building ships that release bubbles along the bottom of the ship to save energy.
What ideas do you get when you look at the way penguins launch themselves out of the water? What if you had microbubbles under your shoes? Or. . .