The body of the brown pelican is protected from impact during plunge-diving thanks to subcutaneous air-sacs.

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To learn more about pelican plunge-diving and how they manage impact, check out this video from KQED Deep Look.

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“Several species of pelicans, boobies, and gannets have extensive subcutaneous air sacs.6,18 In the plunge-diving brown pelicans these air sacs are thought to serve as shock absorbers to decrease the impact of hitting water from great heights.6” (Fowler and Miller 2003:118)

Zoo and Wild Animal MedicineJanuary 1, 2003
Miller RE; Fowler M

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Brown PelicanPelecanus occidentalisSpecies

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