# Penguin bubbles

1. Dec 28, 2005

### Math Is Hard

Staff Emeritus
I saw penguins swimming at an aquarium yesterday. They swam deep underwater and they had streams of bubbles escaping from a spot on their backs. My mom thinks that penguins have some sort of a blowhole, but I've never heard of this. What was that?

2. Dec 28, 2005

### Sisyphus

Maybe they were leaking

3. Dec 28, 2005

### Math Is Hard

Staff Emeritus
oh dear! - I guess you can't use duck tape on penguins!

4. Dec 28, 2005

### zoobyshoe

When they first dive in they have alot of air trapped in their feathers. This makes them look kind of silver untill it floats away. I've seen them at the San Diego Zoo (or maybe the Wild Animal Park).

5. Dec 28, 2005

### rachmaninoff

Are they superpenguins? If they're swimming at supersonic speeds their shock waves might be causing the water to boil, if the pressure momentarily gets low enough. Just a guess.

6. Dec 28, 2005

### Math Is Hard

Staff Emeritus
zoob, do you suppose they swim in such a way that all the trapped air gets channelled to one spot and then released? It was very odd.
oh, and they weren't swimming quite that fast, rach!!!

7. Dec 28, 2005

### zoobyshoe

I would assume so. Everything works out such that it all comes off on that one spot.

If I recall there were plaques around with penguin info, and one of them explained about the trapped air making them look silver. I don't think they explained why it all seemed to escape from the same spot. I'm sure they don't have a blowhole on their backs, though. That's exclusively a cetacean thing. Except maybe some dinosaurs had them.

8. Dec 29, 2005

### zoobyshoe

http://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica fact file/science/cold_penguins.htm

So the air is compressed which somehow must figure into why it leaves their backs at that spot. Not that it's obvious to me why that should be.

Here's something else:

http://www.awi-bremerhaven.de/ClickLearn/newFAQ/FAQ_Pinguine/Fauna1-e.html

Last edited: Dec 29, 2005
9. Dec 29, 2005

### Math Is Hard

Staff Emeritus
It only appeared to escape after they had reached a certain depth. I was probably 10-12 feet below their surface water when I saw them swim by and the air begin to bubble out in a stream off the back. when they were swimming a little higher than this it didn't happen. But it seemed to happen in spurts, as if they had some control over releasing it.

10. Dec 29, 2005

### zoobyshoe

It would make sense if they did. I know birds can control how flat their feathers lie. They may squeeze some of the air out to make it easier to stay down. They may delay this as long as possible since it is their insulation against the cold of the water.

11. Dec 29, 2005

### tribdog

I would think there is an easier explaination for all this. I'd guess that small bubbles migrate towards the surface sticking to the body as long as possible due to surface tension. When the bubbles get to the back they leave the body in a stream because they can't continue going up and stay in contact with the body. The spurts were probably caused by either movement or were simply random fluctuations.
I'm basing all this on the fact that penguino has no control whatsoever.

edit: if the bubbles were leaving the penguin's anus and smelled like fish they may have some control over that.

12. Dec 29, 2005

### Mk

I can't control my anal fish bubbles. Oh there goes one.