Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 155, Issue 3, pp 373–380 | Cite as

The energetics of ‘flying’ and ‘paddling’ in water: locomotion in penguins and ducks

  • R. V. Baudinette
  • Peter Gill


  1. 1.

    Rates of oxygen consumption\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_2 } \) during surface and subsurface swimming were measured in the little penguinEudyptula minor. Comparisons were made with a duck of similar body mass,Anas superciliosa.

  2. 2.

    For both species, swimming on the water surface showed a marked curvilinear increase in\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_2 } \) with speed above 0.5 ms−1. Swimming while completely submerged reduced the oxygen demands in penguins by about 40%.

  3. 3.

    In ducks and penguins, increase in swimming speed was associated with modulation of both limb frequency and stride length.

  4. 4.

    In total efficiency of surface swimming (the ratio of mechanical power output to metabolic power input), the value for the penguin was 4.5% and for the duck, 5.7%.

  5. 5.

    The mass specific oxygen demand to move a given distance decreased from walking to surface swimming to submerged swimming in the penguin. The value for the duck whilst swimming on the surface was greater than that for the penguin.

  6. 6.

    Sub-surface swimming in penguins shows energy demands lower than for any other swimming endotherm.



Water Surface Power Output Oxygen Consumption Oxygen Demand Energy Demand 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Blake RW (1983) Fish locomotion. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  2. Blight AR (1977) The muscular control of vertebrate swimming movements. Biol Rev 52:181–218Google Scholar
  3. Butler PF, Woakes AJ (1984) Heart rate and aerobic metabolism in Humboldt penguins,Spheniscus humboldti, during voluntary dives. J Exp Biol 108:419–428Google Scholar
  4. Clark BD, Bemis W (1979) Kinematics of swimming of penguins at the Detroit Zoo. J Zool 188:411–428Google Scholar
  5. Costello RR, Whittow GC (1975) Oxygen cost of swimming in a trained California sea lion. Comp Biochem Physiol 50A:645–647Google Scholar
  6. Di Prampero PE, Prendergast DR, Wilson DW, Rennie DW (1974) Energetics of swimming in man. J Appl Physiol 37:1–5Google Scholar
  7. Fish FE (1982) Aerobic energetics of surface swimming of the muskratOndatra zibethicus. Physiol Zool 55:180–189Google Scholar
  8. Frith HF (1977) Waterfowl in Australia, 2nd edn. AH and AW Reed, SydneyGoogle Scholar
  9. Goldspink G (1977) Mechanics and energetics of muscle in animals of different sizes, with particular reference to the muscle fibre composition of vertebrate muscle. In: Pedley TJ (ed) Scale effects of animal locomotion. Academic Press, London, pp 37–55Google Scholar
  10. Kooyman GL, Drabek CM, Elsner R, Campbell WB (1971) Diving behavior of the emperor penguin,Aptenodytes forsteri. Auk 88:775–795Google Scholar
  11. Kruse DH (1975) Swimming metabolism of California sea lions,Zalophus californianus. MS thesis, San Diego State UniversityGoogle Scholar
  12. Mill GK, Baldwin J (1983) Biochemical correlates of swimming and diving behaviour in the little penguinEudyptula minor. Physiol Zool 56:242–254Google Scholar
  13. Nachtigall W, Bilo D (1980) Strömungsanpassung des Pinguins beim Schwimmen unter Wasser. J Comp Physiol 137:17–26Google Scholar
  14. Pinshow B, Fedak MA, Schmidt-Nielsen K (1977) Terrestrial locomotion in penguins: It costs more to waddle. Science 195:592–594Google Scholar
  15. Prange HD (1976) Energetics of swimming in a sea turtle. J Exp Biol 64:1–12Google Scholar
  16. Prange HD, Schmidt-Nielsen K (1970) The metabolic rate of swimming in ducks. J Exp Biol 53:763–777Google Scholar
  17. Schmidt-Nielsen K (1972) Locomotion: Energy cost of swimming, flying and running. Science 177:222–228Google Scholar
  18. Stainsby WN, Gladden LB, Barclay JK, Wilson BA (1980) Exercise efficiency: validity of base-line subtractions. J Appl Physiol 48:518–522Google Scholar
  19. Storer RW (1958) Evolution in the diving birds. Int Orn Congr 12:694–707Google Scholar
  20. Taylor CR, Heglund NC, Maloiy GMO (1982) Energetics and mechanics of terrestrial locomotion. I. Metabolic energy consumption as a function of speed and body size in mammals and birds. J Exp Biol 97:1–21Google Scholar
  21. Tucker VA (1970) Energetic cost of locomotion in animals. Comp Biochem Physiol 34:841–846Google Scholar
  22. Vleck D, Gleeson TT, Bartholomew GA (1981) Oxygen consumption during swimming in Galapagos marine iguanas and its ecological significance. J Comp Physiol 141:531–536Google Scholar
  23. Williams TM (1983) Locomotion in the North American mink, a semi aquatic mammal. I. Swimming energetics and body drag. J Exp Biol 103:155–168Google Scholar
  24. Withers PC (1977) Measurements of % MathType!MTEF!2!1!+-% feaafiart1ev1aaatCvAUfeBSjuyZL2yd9gzLbvyNv2CaerbuLwBLn% hiov2DGi1BTfMBaeXatLxBI9gBaerbd9wDYLwzYbItLDharqqtubsr% 4rNCHbGeaGqiVu0Je9sqqrpepC0xbbL8F4rqqrFfpi0de9LqpGe9Lq% pepeea0xd9q8as0-LqLs-Jirpepeea0-as0Fb9pgea0db9fr-xfr-x% frpeWZqaaeaabiGaciaacaqabeaadaqaaqaaaOqaaiqabAfagaGaam% aaBaaaleaacaqGpbWaaSbaaWqaaiaabkdaaeqaaaWcbeaakiaacYca% ceqGwbGbaiaadaWgaaWcbaGaae4qaiaab+eadaWgaaadbaGaaeOmaa% qabaaaleqaaaaa!3E3C!\[{\text{\dot V}}_{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} } ,{\text{\dot V}}_{{\text{CO}}_{\text{2}} } \] and evaporative water loss in a flow through mask. J Appl Physiol 42:120–123Google Scholar
  25. Woakes AJ, Butler PJ (1983) Swimming and diving in tufted ducksAythya fuligula, with particular reference to heart rate and gas exchange. J Exp Biol 107:311–329Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. V. Baudinette
    • 1
  • Peter Gill
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesFlinders University of South AustraliaBedford ParkAustralia

Personalised recommendations