Image for Underwater fliers

Underwater fliers

Duration: 01:36

Bridging the barrier between air and water is difficult for most animals, but for auks it is not a problem. First of all, when they dive they close a third eyelid, but it is transparent and actually allows them to see more clearly underwater. It's rather like wearing a contact lens. Once underwater, it's just a matter of flying. They don't use their legs at all, but because water is so much denser than air they have to put a lot of effort into flying and build up very big pectoral muscles. The penalty of that is that they are very heavy and actually quite clumsy fliers in air. They look more at home underwater where they pursue fish and sand eels, or escape if threatened from above. It's almost like they are becoming penguins, which are, of course, totally flightless.

Available since: Mon 13 Dec 2010


Martha Holmes
Camera Operator
Andrew Mcclenaghan
Camera Operator
Michael Pits
Camera Operator
Michael Pitts
Camera Operator
Peter Scoones
Camera Operator
Simon Graham
Camera Operator
Rob Brownhill
Sound Recordist
Peter Hicks
Sound Recordist
Mike Burgess
Mike Salisbury
Roger R. Jones
Mark Jacobs

This clip is from

Natural World 1989-1990, Splashdown

A diver's natural history of Britain and Eire, showing rarely seen marine flora and fauna.

First broadcast: 29 Oct 1989

Image for Splashdown Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

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