How Do Penguins Breathe Underwater?

Penguins are not able to breathe underwater; however, all 17 of the penguin species can hold their breath for as long as 15 minutes. This amazing capability allows them to dive deep within the ocean to find food.

Many penguin species are also fast at getting into the water because they do not want prey to be able to catch them. The Adelie penguins can accelerate from 0 to 16 mph, according to the Tennessee Aquarium, which helps them avoid the slow 4-mph swimming of the leopard seal.

Penguins also have a black and white color combination. The white is found on the stomach and sometimes on choice areas of the penguin's face. The reason for this particular black and white color combination is because the penguin has evolved to protect itself. The black color is what is seen from above, which helps the penguin blend into dark water. The white color is what is seen from below, which helps the penguin blend into the light sky as it swims or sits on an ice patch.

Penguins are also able to swim in different ways while they hold their breath. They can waddle or hop on land as well as slide on the ice with their stomach. In the water, they can swim close to the surface or dive below in what is often called "flying." They also can swim like the dolphins do by popping their head up out of the water or by making little jumps.