Why don’t penguins freeze in icy water?


By Scott A. Rowan

Why don’t penguins freeze in icy water?

Penguins spend hours every day preening their feathers to protect them when they swim. Some penguins spend as much as 75 percent of their life in the waters in our near Antarctica so taking care of their feathers is important since their feathers are what prevent them from freezing.

There are two ways penguins use their feathers to avoid freezing: the feathers trap air in between the feathers and their body, giving the birds a “puffy jacket” of sorts. Puffy jackets keep humans warm by trapping pockets of air that surround the person, keeping them warm.

The pockets of air the penguins trap in their feathers do the same thing, but without a zipper.

When on land, penguins spend hours preening their feathers to keep them clean so they can trap air properly. They also coat their feathers in a special oil that keeps their feathers waterproof. The oil is secreted from a gland near their tail.

With waterproof feathers and the ability to trap air in their feathers penguins avoid becoming an ice cube in the cold waters of the Southern Ocean.


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