Drag of suction cup tags on swimming animals : modeling and measurement
Shorter, K. Alex
Murray, Mark M.
Johnson, Mark P.
Moore, Michael J.
Howle, Laurens E.
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Bio-logging tags are widely used to study the behavior and movements of marine mammals with the tacit assumption of little impact to the animal. However, tags on fast-swimming animals generate substantial hydrodynamic forces potentially affecting behavior and energetics adversely, or promoting early removal of the tag. In this work, hydrodynamic loading of three novel tag housing designs are compared over a range of swimming speeds using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Results from CFD simulation were verified using tag models in a water flume with close agreement. Drag forces were reduced by minimizing geometric disruptions to the flow around the housing, while lift forces were reduced by minimizing the frontal cross-sectional area of the housing and holding the tag close to the attachment surface. Hydrodynamic tag design resulted in an experimentally measured 60% drag force reduction in 5.6 m/s flow. For all housing designs, off-axis flow increased the magnitude of the force on the tag. Experimental work with a common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) cadaver indicates that the suction cups used to attach the types of tags described here provide sufficient attachment force to resist failure to predicted forces at swimming speeds of up to 10 m/s.
© The Author(s), 2013. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Marine Mammal Science 30 (2014): 726–746, doi:10.1111/mms.12083.
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