Propulsive design principles in a multi-jet siphonophore.

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Sutherland, Kelly R.
Gemmell, Brad J.
Colin, Sean P.
Costello, John H.
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Nanomia bijuga
Coordination of multiple propulsors can provide performance benefits in swimming organisms. Siphonophores are marine colonial organisms that orchestrate the motion of multiple swimming zooids for effective swimming. However, the kinematics at the level of individual swimming zooids (nectophores) have not been examined in detail. We used high speed, high resolution microvideography and particle image velocimetry (PIV) of the physonect siphonophore, Nanomia bijuga, to study the motion of the nectophores and the associated fluid motion during jetting and refilling. The integration of nectophore and velum kinematics allow for a high-speed (maximum ∼1 m s−1), narrow (1-2 mm) jet and rapid refill as well as a 1:1 ratio of jetting to refill time. Scaled to the 3 mm nectophore length, jet speeds reach >300 lengths s−1. Overall swimming performance is enhanced by velocity gradients produced in the nectophore during refill, which lead to a high pressure region that produces forward thrust. Generating thrust during both the jet and refill phases augments the distance travelled by 17% over theoretical animals, which generate thrust only during the jet phase. The details of velum kinematics and associated fluid mechanics elucidate how siphonophores effectively navigate three-dimensional space and could be applied to exit flow parameters in multijet underwater vehicles.
Author Posting. © Company of Biologists, 2019. This article is posted here by permission of Company of Biologists for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Experimental Biology (2019): jeb.198242, doi:10.1242/jeb.198242.
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Sutherland, K. R., Gemmell, B. J., Colin, S. P., & Costello, J. H. (2019). Propulsive design principles in a multi-jet siphonophore. Journal of Experimental Biology, jeb.198242
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