Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Max Pool Time For The Macs

Olympic long distance swimmers are amazing to watch, but they would be no match for our macaroni penguins. These little birds spend more time in the water than on the rocky shoreline of "Penguins' Rock." In fact macaronis are swimming around about 80 percent of their lives. One co-worker even said, "The macaronis are like a bunch of 7 or 8 year olds that won't get out of the pool." Oh they pop out of the water from time to time, but mainly to chow down on capelin. The rest of the time they are using their flippers to "fly" underwater. A penguin's muscle structure is quite a bit different from other birds. They have muscles to power their flippers both on the upstroke and the downstroke. Most birds only get power when they flap their wings downward. This adaptation in penguins should make sense to swimmers. Water is much more dense than air. Not only are the macaronis long distance champs, they also have rather surprising bursts of speed. At other times they will lazily float on top and seem to study you. Their curiosity is pretty amazing really. They will gaze at you for quite awhile, then all at once they seem to decide, "Enough of that. Time to swim." And zoom! They're off to the races again.

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