Effects of fish caudal fin sweep angle and kinematics on thrust production during low-speed thunniform swimming


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The Company of Biologists


Scombrid fish lunate caudal fins are characterized by a wide range of sweep angles. Scombrid that have small sweep-angle caudal fins move at higher swimming speeds, suggesting that smaller angles produce more thrust. Furthermore, scombrids occasionally use high angles of attack (AoA) suggesting this also has some thrust benefit. This work examined the hypothesis that a smaller sweep angle and higher AoA improved thrust in swimmers by experimentally analyzing a robophysical model. The robophysical model was tested in a water tunnel at speeds between 0.35 and 0.7 body lengths per second. Three swept caudal fins were analyzed at three different AoA, three different freestream velocities, and four different Strouhal numbers, for a total of 108 cases. Results demonstrated that the fin with the largest sweep angle of 50° resulted in lower thrust production than the 40° and 30° fins, especially at higher Strouhal numbers. Larger AoA up to 25° increased thrust production at the higher Strouhal numbers, but at lower Strouhal numbers, produced less thrust. Differences in thrust production due to fin sweep angle and AoAwere attributed to the variation in spanwise flowand leading edge vortex dynamics.



Thunniform locomotion, Caudal fin, Thrust production, Fin sweep angle