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DEEP LOOK is a ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Get a new perspective on our place in the universe and meet extraordinary new friends. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small.
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The shape of its bill is essential to the birds’ survival in these dives, reducing “hydrodynamic drag” — buckling forces, caused by the change from air to water — to almost zero. It’s something like the difference between slapping the water with your palm and chopping it, karate-style.
And while all birds have light, air-filled bones, pelican skeletons take it to an extreme. As they dive, they inflate special air sacs around their neck and belly, cushioning their impact and allowing them to float.
Even their celebrated pouches play a role. An old limerick quips, “A remarkable bird is a pelican / Its beak can hold more than its belly can…” That beak is more than just a fishing net. It’s also a parachute that pops open underwater, helping to slow the bird down.
— What do pelicans eat?
Pelicans live 15-25 years in the wild.
The Fantastic Fur of Sea Otters
Physics Girl: Why Outlets Spark When Unplugging
Funding for Deep Look is provided in part by PBS Digital Studios and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Deep Look is a project of KQED Science, which is also supported by HopeLab, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation, the Vadasz Family Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Smart Family Foundation and the members of KQED.