With the temperatures being close to unbearable at the moment in Germany I thought back of situations when the penguins must have felt the same. Only very few people know that penguins do experience temperatures above 30deg C on a regular basis and especially during the Antarctic winter. Now, that does not seem to make much sense in the beginning, but if you look at their behavior closely it can be easily understood. I have told you about the huddle, the penguins' secret weapon against the cold. All the birds will be standing close with their heads tucked in between the birds in front of them and warming each other. By remaining in this configuration a lot of the heat that dissipates from the birds' bodies is trapped within the huddle, helping to keep individuals warm and cozy. With penguins traveling around the huddle all the time in order to reach the wind shielded side of the group, there's a constant flow of birds going from the interior to the outside of the huddle and vice versa.
Some of the time however, the central portions of the huddle get so warm (37deg C have been measured) that it becomes unbearable for the birds to stay there (keep in mind they still have a fairly good insulation). When this happens, the entire huddle breaks open releasing incredible amounts of heat into the cold Antarctic air. In fact, you can even see a cloud of steam rising from the colony and if this cloud is backlit by a low sun it can look incredibly dramatic and utterly beautiful. We were able to witness huddle breakups multiple times and hence were also able to get some nice footage of this special event. . .
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