Volumetric flow imaging reveals the importance of vortex ring formation in squid swimming tail-first and arms-first

Ian K Bartol, Paul S Krueger, Rachel A Jastrebsky, Sheila Williams, Joseph T Thompson
Journal of Experimental Biology 2016, 219 (Pt 3): 392-403
Squids use a pulsed jet and fin movements to swim both arms-first (forward) and tail-first (backward). Given the complexity of the squid multi-propulsor system, 3D velocimetry techniques are required for the comprehensive study of wake dynamics. Defocusing digital particle tracking velocimetry, a volumetric velocimetry technique, and high-speed videography were used to study arms-first and tail-first swimming of brief squid Lolliguncula brevis over a broad range of speeds [0-10 dorsal mantle lengths (DML) s(-1)] in a swim tunnel. Although there was considerable complexity in the wakes of these multi-propulsor swimmers, 3D vortex rings and their derivatives were prominent reoccurring features during both tail-first and arms-first swimming, with the greatest jet and fin flow complexity occurring at intermediate speeds (1.5-3.0 DML s(-1)). The jet generally produced the majority of thrust during rectilinear swimming, increasing in relative importance with speed, and the fins provided no thrust at speeds >4.5 DML s(-1). For both swimming orientations, the fins sometimes acted as stabilizers, producing negative thrust (drag), and consistently provided lift at low/intermediate speeds (<2.0 DML s(-1)) to counteract negative buoyancy. Propulsive efficiency (η) increased with speed irrespective of swimming orientation, and η for swimming sequences with clear isolated jet vortex rings was significantly greater (η=78.6±7.6%, mean±s.d.) than that for swimming sequences with clear elongated regions of concentrated jet vorticity (η=67.9±19.2%). This study reveals the complexity of 3D vortex wake flows produced by nekton with hydrodynamically distinct propulsors.


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