Riding the Waves: the Role of the Body Wave in Undulatory Fish Swimming1

UK Muller*, EJ Stamhuis, JJ Videler

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    49 Citations (Scopus)


    A continuously swimming mullet modulates its thrust production by changing slip-the ratio between its swimming speed U and the speed V with which the body wave travels down its body. This variation in thrust is reflected in the wake of the fish. We obtained 2-dimensional impressions of the wake behind a mullet swimming at a slip of 0.7 equivalent to active swimming, at a slip of 0.9 close to freewheeling, and at a slip of 1.1 when the fish is braking. Independent of the slip, vortices are shed at the tail when the tail tip reaches its maximum lateral excursion. The manner in which the wake changes as it decays depends on the degree of slip: At a slip well below unity, the wake decays without any qualitative changes in shape, the medio-frontal cross section of the mature wake consists of a double row of alternating vortices separated by an undulating jet, and the angle between the jet flow and the mean path of motion is close to 45degrees; at a slip above unity, the vortices stretch out laterally and the mature wake resembles a single row of oval vortices with two vortex cores, and the jet between the vortices is almost perpendicular to the mean path of motion; the wake at slip of 0.9 exhibits a pattern intermediate between the wakes at slips 0.7 and 0.9 with slightly elongate vortices and a jet angle of 61degrees.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)981-987
    Number of pages7
    JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Nov-2002
    EventAnnual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) - Anaheim, United States
    Duration: 2-Jan-20026-Jan-2002


    • WAKE
    • FLOW
    • FORCES
    • FLIGHT

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