Water fowl (Ducks)
Image from www.freefoto.com
Ducks swim on water and one of the instantly noticeable things is how high in the water they float. This is because the layers of feathers are several centimeters thick and do not wet. Therefore, the duck as a whole has a very low density, even though a duck with no feathers would sink. As you can see in the video, another striking feature is how water just runs off a duck's back. This is because it is superhydrophobic and so prevents water from penetrating, while allowing air to pass through. A disadvantage of superhydrophobic surfaces is that a rough and water repellent surface can also be a supersponge for other liquids, such as oil. The picture of the oiled bird on the right shows how once wet with oil, the bird loses both its insulation and its buoyancy, making it unlikely to survive. Click here to find out more about the effects of oil on seabirds.