Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal Of Experimental Biology


Many fishes that swim with the paired pectoral fins use fin-stroke parameters that produce thrust force from lift in a mechanism of underwater flight. These locomotor mechanisms are of interest to behavioral biologists, biomechanics researchers and engineers. In the. present study, we performed the first three-dimensional unsteady computations of fish swimming with oscillating and deforming fins. The objective of these computations was to investigate the fluid dynamics of force production associated with the flapping aquatic flight of the bird wrasse Gomphosus varius. For this computational work, we used the geometry of the wrasse and its pectoral fin, and previously measured fin kinematics, as the starting points for computational investigation of three-dimensional (3-D) unsteady fluid dynamics. We performed a 3-D steady computation and a complete set of 3-D quasi-steady computations for a range of pectoral fin positions and surface velocities. An unstructured, grid-based, unsteady Navier-Stokes solver with automatic adaptive remeshing was then used to compute the unsteady How about the wrasse through several complete cycles of pectoral fin oscillation. The shape deformation of the pectoral fin throughout the oscillation was taken from the experimental kinematics. The pressure distribution on the body of the bird wrasse and its pectoral fins was computed and integrated to give body and fin forces which were decomposed into lift and thrust. The velocity field variation on the surface of the wrasse body, on the pectoral fins and in the near-wake was computed throughout the swimming cycle. We compared our computational results for the steady, quasi-steady and unsteady cases with the experimental data on axial and vertical acceleration obtained from the pectoral fin kinematics experiments. These comparisons show that steady state computations are incapable of describing the fluid dynamics of flapping fins. Quasi-steady state computations, with correct incorporation of the experimental kinematics, are useful when determining trends in force production, but do not provide accurate estimates of the magnitudes of the forces produced. By contrast, unsteady computations about the deforming pectoral fins using experimentally measured fin kinematics were found to give excellent agreement, both in the time history of force production throughout the flapping strokes and in the magnitudes of the generated forces.


Printed in Great Britain © The Company of Biologists Limited Click here to see publisher version.

Included in

Biology Commons