Penguins breathe air through their lungs. They cannot breathe underwater. They can, however hold their breath for long periods of time during dives. The smaller the penguin, the less time it can hold its breath and the more shallow its dive has to be. Blue penguins can only hold their breath for 2 minutes and dive to 60 meters, while Emperor penguins can hold theirs up to 20 minutes and dive to 550 meters.