Adélies are powerful swimmers, often having to travel up to 300 km to reach their feeding grounds. Using their feet and tails as rudders and their flippers as propellers, a steady speed of 4 to 7 km/hr can be achieved. At speeds of 15 km/hr, Adélies can leap from the water and onto an icefloe 2 m high!
Adélies breathe when swimming by leaping clear of the water in a series of movements called porpoising.
At sea, Adélies have been known to dive to a depth of 180 m in search of prey although most dives (70%) are less than 45 m and last about 100 seconds. Dive depth appears to be determined by the availability of light; too deep, and prey cannot be seen.
Penguins' bones are solid and heavy. This helps to reduce the energy needed to stay submerged when diving. Some 65–70% of the time of a foraging trip is spent at the surface.
On land Adélies can walk long distances at about 2.5 km/hr. Unlike most other birds that walk on their toes, Adélies walk on the soles of their feet! In thick snow they drop onto their chests and toboggan, pushing their body forward with flippers and toes. In this way they can move faster than a man.