Learn the physics behind emperor penguins' ability to launch onto ice from frigid ocean waters in this behind the scenes video from the November 2012 digital edition of National Geographic magazine.
  • This video is from the December 2012 iPad edition of National Geographic magazine. Find more interactive content, photos, and videos in the iPad version of National Geographic magazine.

    • Emperor penguins are the largest of all penguins. An average bird stands about 115 centimeters (45 inches) tall. These flightless animals live on the Antarctic ice and in the frigid surrounding waters. It is an incredibly harsh environment. Wind chills can reach -60C (-76F).
    • Emperor penguins can weigh up to 40 kilograms (88 pounds).
    • At sea, emperor penguins can dive to 565 meters (1,850 feet)—deeper than any other bird—and stay under for more than 20 minutes.
    • Male and female emperors take turns going out to sea to feed. Females lay a single egg and then promptly leave it behind. They undertake an extended hunting trip that lasts about two months, during which they feed on fish, squid, and krill. Male emperors stay behind and keep the eggs warm, protecting them from the elements until they hatch. The females return and bring a full belly of food that they regurgitate for the newly hatched chicks. Meanwhile, their duty done, male emperors take to the sea in search of food for themselves.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    agility Noun

    ability to move quickly, easily, and with flexibility.

    Antarctica Noun

    Earth's fifth-largest continental landmass.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Antarctica
    ice Noun

    water in its solid form.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ice
    ocean Noun

    large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ocean
    penguin Noun

    bird native to the Antarctic.

    physics Noun

    study of the physical processes of the universe, especially the interaction of matter and energy.