How Long Can Penguins Hold Their Breath?

Penguins are the beautiful seabirds that are rare to see, and that is the reason why lots of people have queries about their habitat and living style. It is true that penguins cannot fly, but they are excellent swimmers under the water. So, how long can penguins hold their breath there?

The time of holding the breath varies with the size and category of the penguins. To know the answer in detail, you need to read the below article where we will tell you about the breath holding timings of the penguins and also share with you some valuable info regarding the same.

How Much Longer the Penguins Can Hold Their Breath?

penguin breathing on the surface

penguin breathing on the surface

The big size penguins such as emperors can hold their breath for a more extended time under the water than the small size penguins like little blue penguins. The bigger size penguins can smoothly go 1700 ft. under the water with the hold of their breath for around 18 minutes quickly. Similarly, the small size penguins can only go about 200 ft. under the water, and it is not possible for them to hold their breath for more than one minute.

Penguins spend their maximum time of the life in the water, and this makes them the good swimmers too. According to a recent study, these seabirds spend around 76 % of their life in the water. Isn’t it amazing?

Penguins have to dive below the water for catching their food in the sea or ocean. But for doing this, they require oxygen for breathing under the water. On an average basis, the maximum number of penguin’s species can stay under the water for around 6 minutes as their maximum prey survives in the upper levels of the water.

On the other hand, the larger Penguins eats foods like fish, squid, or krill which stays deep below the water. Thus these kinds of penguin might hold its breath for around 18 minutes. They are also recognized to dive approximately 1,800 feet for catching their prey.

One more species of penguins is the Gentoo that recognized for diving up to 500 feet. Dissimilar to the seals, the breed of penguins are comparatively smaller in size. Thus their lungs could grasp only that much of oxygen. Furthermore, at the bottom of the sea, density impacts the air sacs and lungs of the penguins. These critical airways might only supply 1/3rd of the needed oxygen required for every single dive.

How Can the Penguins Hold Their Breath for So Long Under the Water?

In one of the recent research that accomplished over the penguins in the region of Antarctica reveals specific shocking adaptions inside the muscle tissues and blood of the penguin for raising the oxygen in the period of an underwater dive. Such penguins fixed with distinctive sensors that help in monitoring their body’s air level.

Penguins exploring coast

Penguins exploring coast

Dissimilar to the human beings, the extreme-delicate hemoglobin existing inside the red blood cells of the penguins let them to successfully make use of every single last particle of oxygen in their body for diving. Inside their body, the blood is directed mostly to the brain, heart, and other central tissues.

The hemoglobin of penguin is so useful that they can do the diving even if the other creatures might get hurt from a severe injury to the tissues. Moreover, the muscle tissues of the penguin to benefit them in breathing easily below the water. Their muscle tissues might stock extra oxygen with the help of large quantities of the myoglobin which is a blood protein.

Moreover, an exceptional enzyme let the muscles of penguin to function without the existence of oxygen along with the counterbalancing of the lactic acid accumulation. As soon as the penguins touch the coast surface and get back to the regular inhalation, they might at that time eject this accumulation of lactic acid. For saving more oxygen intake, the penguins could decrease their heart rate for around five beats in one single minute. So, when they utilize less energy, it helps them in staying under the water for a longer time.

How Can the Penguins Hold their Breath for So Long During the Swimming nearby the Surface of Water?

It is right to say that the Penguins can dive well in the deeper levels of the water, however, at times it might be required to swim near the surface of the water. Certain classes of penguins utilize the swimming and breathing practice known as porpoising, termed after dolphins and porpoises. These aquatic birds arise up for getting the air and then breathe in and breathe out quickly. At that time they begin to breathe without intruding their movement frontward. They dive out and dive in the water. These birds can uphold a speed of around seven mph during the porpoising. On the other hand, this porpoising practice not generally perceived in Emperor or king penguins.

Numerous species of penguin are too quick at diving in the water as they don’t desire that their prey get off from that particular space. The Adelie penguins could speed up from 0 mph to 16 mph that benefits them in evading the leopard seal’s sluggish swimming at the rate of 4-mph.

Final Word!

If somebody asks you that how long can penguins hold their breath now you know that what needs to be said? Are we right?

Penguins have an outstanding quality to do swimming in diverse ways along with the hold on their breath correctly. These birds can swing back and forth on a water surface and in the water or ice with their belly. Inside the sea, penguins might swim nearby to the coast or dive underneath the water.

Is there anything that we miss out in the above article? Do you still want some in-depth explanation about the topic?

Then, please write to us here. We will solve your query as soon as we can. If you have any useful info to share with us then, also you are most welcome.


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I got interested in penguins from a young age and as I grew I realized that penguins are such fascinating birds. I made it a mission to create a website where all information about penguins could be accessed in an easy to read format.

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