Swimming dynamics and propulsive efficiency of squids throughout ontogeny

Ian K Bartol, Paul S Krueger, Joseph T Thompson, William J Stewart
Integrative and Comparative Biology 2008, 48 (6): 720-33
Squids encounter vastly different flow regimes throughout ontogeny as they undergo critical morphological changes to their two locomotive systems: the fins and jet. Squid hatchlings (paralarvae) operate at low and intermediate Reynolds numbers (Re) and typically have rounded bodies, small fins, and relatively large funnel apertures, whereas juveniles and adults operate at higher Re and generally have more streamlined bodies, larger fins, and relatively small funnel apertures. These morphological changes and varying flow conditions affect swimming performance in squids. To determine how swimming dynamics and propulsive efficiency change throughout ontogeny, digital particle image velocimetry (DPIV) and kinematic data were collected from an ontogenetic range of long-finned squid Doryteuthis pealeii and brief squid Lolliguncula brevis swimming in a holding chamber or water tunnel (Re = 20-20 000). Jet and fin wake bulk properties were quantified, and propulsive efficiency was computed based on measurements of impulse and excess kinetic energy in the wakes. Paralarvae relied predominantly on a vertically directed, high frequency, low velocity jet as they bobbed up and down in the water column. Although some spherical vortex rings were observed, most paralarval jets consisted of an elongated vortical region of variable length with no clear pinch-off of a vortex ring from the trailing tail component. Compared with paralarvae, juvenile and adult squid exhibited a more diverse range of swimming strategies, involving greater overall locomotive fin reliance and multiple fin and jet wake modes with better defined vortex rings. Despite greater locomotive flexibility, jet propulsive efficiency of juveniles/adults was significantly lower than that of paralarvae, even when juvenile/adults employed their highest efficiency jet mode involving the production of periodic isolated vortex rings with each jet pulse. When the fins were considered together with the jet for several juvenile/adult swimming sequences, overall propulsive efficiency increased, suggesting that fin contributions are important and should not be overlooked in analyses of the swimming performance of squids. The fins produced significant thrust and consistently had higher propulsive efficiency than did the jet. One particularly important area of future study is the determination of coordinated jet/fin wake modes that have the greatest impact on propulsive efficiency. Although such research would be technically challenging, requiring new, powerful, 3D approaches, it is necessary for a more comprehensive assessment of propulsive efficiency of the squid dual-mode locomotive system.

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