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Adelie penguins swimming in open water.

Flying In Water

To call a penguin flightless is to ignore its abilities underwater. As penguins evolved, their wings grew shorter and their feathers smaller, and they eventually lost the ability to fold their wings. In return, they developed a rigid, powerful flipper that can propel them through the water at speeds of 15 kilometers per hour. Here several Adelies speed across the surface, launching themselves into the air every time they need to take a breath. At almost any moment at Cape Crozier, you can see penguins charging across the broad ocean surface. (Photo by Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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