The Research Saga Continues
During my junior year, Dr. Frank Fish offered me the opportunity to work on a research project studying the locomotion of eider ducks (Somateria mollissima) at Shoals Marine Laboratory. The project involved locating flocks of the birds swimming at the surface of the water and driving near them with an inflatable boat to provoke an escape response. Video analysis of these escape responses revealed two distinct locomotory patterns: 1) rapidly beating the wings against the water to produce thrust and hydroplane along the surface (steaming) and 2) lifting the body out of the water and “running” along the surface while flapping the wings (paddle-assisted flying). Out study was the first to describe these behaviors for the eider duck and the first to give a full biomechanical definition for each (Gough et al., 2015).