On the role of form and kinematics on the hydrodynamics of self-propelled body/caudal fin swimming

I. Borazjani, Fotis Sotiropoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


We carry out fluid-structure interaction simulations of self-propelled virtual swimmers to investigate the effects of body shape (form) and kinematics on the hydrodynamics of undulatory swimming. To separate the effects of form and kinematics, we employ four different virtual swimmers: a carangiform swimmer (i.e. a mackerel swimming like mackerel do in nature); an anguilliform swimmer (i.e. a lamprey swimming like lampreys do in nature); a hybrid swimmer with anguilliform kinematics but carangiform body shape (a mackerel swimming like a lamprey); and another hybrid swimmer with carangiform kinematics but anguilliform body shape (a lamprey swimming like a mackerel). By comparing the performance of swimmers with different kinematics but similar body shapes we study the effects of kinematics whereas by comparing swimmers with similar kinematics but different body shapes we study the effects of form. We show that the anguilliform kinematics not only reaches higher velocities but is also more efficient in the viscous (Re∼102) and transitional (Re∼103) regimes. However, in the inertial regime (Re=∞) carangiform kinematics achieves higher velocities and is also more efficient than the anguilliform kinematics. The mackerel body achieves higher swimming speeds in all cases but is more efficient in the inertial regime only whereas the lamprey body is more efficient in the transitional regime. We also show that form and kinematics have little overall effect on the 3-D structure of the wake (i.e. single vs double row vortex streets), which mainly depends on the Strouhal number. Nevertheless, body shape is found to somewhat affect the small-scale features and complexity of the vortex rings shed by the various swimmers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-107
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


  • Anguilliform
  • Carangiform
  • Energetics
  • Fish swimming
  • Fluid-structure interaction
  • Lamprey
  • Mackerel
  • Numerical simulations
  • Self-propelled
  • Wake structure

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