Fish foot prints: Morphology and energetics of the wake behind a continuously swimming mullet (Chelon labrosus risso)

U.K Mueller, B.L.E. van den Heuvel, Eize Stamhuis, J.J Videler

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    271 Citations (Scopus)
    288 Downloads (Pure)


    The structure of the wake behind a continuously swimming mullet was analysed qualitatively and quantitatively by applying two-dimensional particle image velocimetry. A detailed analysis of the flow pattern and of the swimming movements of the fish allowed us to derive a kinematic explanation of the flow pattern as well as an estimate of the relative contributions of the body and the tail to thrust production. During active propulsion, the undulatory swimming fish shed a wake consisting in the medio-frontal plane of a rearward, zigzagging jet flow between alternating vortices. The fish shed one vortex per half tailbeat when the tail reached its most lateral position, Part of the circulation shed in the vortices had been generated previously on the body by the transverse body wave travelling down the body, This undulatory pump mechanism accounted for less than half of the energy shed in the wake, The remainder was generated by the tail, The vortex spacing matched the tailbeat amplitude and the stride length.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2893-2906
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
    Issue number22
    Publication statusPublished - Nov-1997


    • swimming
    • locomotion
    • flow field
    • wake structure
    • particle image velocimetry
    • mullet
    • Chelon labrosus

    Cite this