SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • swimming;
  • dolphin;
  • stability;
  • recoil;
  • kinematics;
  • cetaceans;
  • Delpbinapterus leucas;
  • Globicephala melaena;
  • Lagenorhynchus obliquidens;
  • Orcinus orca;
  • Pseudorca crassidens;
  • Stenella plagiodon;
  • Tursiops truncatus

Abstract

Propulsive movements of the caudal oscillating flukes produce large forces that could induce equally large recoil forces at the cranial end of the animal, and, thus, affect stability. To examine these vertical oscillations, video analysis was used to measure the motions of the rostrum, pectoral flipper, caudal peduncle, and fluke tip for seven odontocete cetaceans: Delphinapterus leucas, Globicephala melaena, Lagenorhynchus obliquidens, Orcinus orca, Pseudorca crassidens, Stenella plagiodon, and Tursiops truncatus. Animals swam over a range of speeds of 1.4–7.30 m/sec. For each species, oscillatory frequency of the fluke tip increased linearly with swimming speed. Peak-to-peak amplitude at each body position remained constant with respect to swimming speed for all species. Mean peak-to-peak amplitude ranged from 0.02 to 0.06 body length at the rostrum and from 0.17 to 0.25 body length at the fluke tip. The phase relationships between the various body components remain constant with respect to swimming speed. Oscillations of the rostrum were nearly in phase with the fluke tip with phase differences out of—9.4°-33.0° of a cycle period of 360°. Pectoral flipper oscillations trailed fluke oscillations by 60.9°-123.4°. The lower range in amplitude at the rostrum compared to the fluke tip reflects increased resistance to vertical oscillation at the cranial end, which enhances the animal's stability. This resistance is likely due to both active and passive increased body stiffness, resistance on the flippers, phased movements of body components, and use of a lift-based propulsion. Collectively, these mechanisms stabilize the body of cetaceans during active swimming, which can reduce locomotor energy expenditure and reduce excessive motions of the head affecting sensory capabilities.