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Biomechanics of Locomotion. Christine Bedore and Shannon Long. Forces. Gravity Downward force Negatively buoyant due to lack of swim bladder Large oily liver creates minor lift Must create more lift to oppose Lift Upward force

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biomechanics of locomotion

Biomechanics of Locomotion

Christine Bedore and Shannon Long

  • Gravity
    • Downward force
    • Negatively buoyant due to lack of swim bladder
    • Large oily liver creates minor lift
    • Must create more lift to oppose
  • Lift
    • Upward force
    • Bernoulli’s Principle: Decrease in pressure with increasing velocity results in lift
    • Vortices
  • Drag
    • Backward motion
  • Thrust
    • Forward motion
  • What is it?: circulatory water flow resulting from water displacement
  • Importance: show water flow resulting from force on water, shows how body and fins used in locomotion
studies of locomotion
Studies of Locomotion
  • DPIV: Digital particle image velocimetry
    • Uses reflective beads and lasers
    • Shows waterflow due to movement
  • 3D Kinematics
    • 2 cameras with mirrors to show lateral and ventral movement
    • X,Y,Z graphs to show fin movement
  • EMG: Electromyography
    • Patterns of muscle activation during locomotion
    • Uses electrodes attached to animal
    • Confirms active movement of body positioning in pectorals during horizontal and vertical movements
body forms
Type 1: Fast-swimming pelagic sharks

Conical head

Deep body

Large pectorals

Narrow caudal peduncle with keels

High heterocercal tail angle (Symm. like a tuna)

Reduced pelvic, second dorsal, and anal

Increase streamlining, and reduce drag

Type 2: General continental swimmers

Heads conical on top, flattened ventrally

Large pectorals

Low heterocercal tail angle

No keels on peduncle

Pelvic, second dorsal and anal fins moderately sized

Highly maneuverable across wide ranges of speeds

Body Forms
Type 3: Benthic slow-swimmers

Big heads with blunt snout

Pelvic anterior, first dorsal posterior

Low heterocercal tail angle

Smaller/absent hypochordal lobe and large subterminal lobe

Type 4: Deep sea sharks (Dogfish)

No anal fin

Large epicaudal lobe

Grab-bag of other characteristics

Type 5: Batoids

Mostly benthic

Dorsoventrally flattened

Large pectorals

Caudal half of body reduced

Type 6: Holocephalans

Laterally compressed

Large, broad pectorals

Tail long and tapering or distinctly heterocercal

locomotion modes
Locomotion Modes
  • Sharks– use lateral undulations of axial skeleton
    • Mode 1: Anguilliform-Nurse Shark
      • Entire trunk and tail move in more than one wave
      • Typically seen in sharks that are elongate and benthic
    • Mode 2: Carangiform-Thesher Shark
      • Uses posterior half of body in less than one wave
      • Pelagic species
    • Mode 3: Thunniform-Great White Shark
      • Only tail and caudal peduncle move
      • Pronounced in Lamnides

Appendage propulsion


Waves move down pectorals



Flapping of pectorals up and down



Combine oscillatory and undulatory movements of pectorals

body angle of attack horizontal movement
Body Angle of Attack (Horizontal movement)
  • Upward in water = 22°
  • Resting/Holding = 4-11°
  • Down = -11°
  • Angle varies with swimming speed
    • Slow speed equals higher angle
    • High speed equals lower angle

All angles specific to laboratory testing on bamboo and leopard sharks

caudal fin of shark
Caudal Fin of Shark
  • Used DPIV and 3D Kinematics
  • Moves in Figure-8 pattern
  • Top edge trails while bottom edge leads
  • Water is pushed down and back due to tilted angle
  • Produces lift and thrust
  • DPIV used to show counter-clockwise and clockwise flows which makes shark move forward and upward
wilga and lauder 2004
Wilga and Lauder, 2004
  • DPIV on dogfish shark
  • Top lobe leads bottom lobe on caudal
  • Forms ring within a ring vortex structure due to vortices being shed at different intervals
  • 2 jets produced combine into one posteroventral jet
caudal fin of skates and rays
Caudal Fin of Skates and Rays
  • Basal batoids use lateral tail undulation similar to sharks with a positive body angle of attack
pectoral fins of sharks
Pectoral Fins of Sharks
  • Anatomy
    • Aplesodic: flexible, used to ‘walk’
    • Plesodic: stiff, reduces drag
  • Steady Swimming
    • Determined using 3D kinematics
    • NOT a hydrofoil– contrasts to airplane wings, sharks have negative angles (does not create lift) and planes have positive (creates lift)
    • Negative angle creates roll and de-stability
Vertical movements
    • Determined with DPIV
    • Highly positive angles move shark upward in water, small negative angles move shark down in water
    • In order to maneuver, flips posterior part of fin down and anterior upward to produce lift
    • To move downward, flips posterior part of fin up and anterior downward
    • Used to reorient head and body for maneuvering
    • When sinking, lower pectoral angle to help body remain stable
    • Greater angles help maneuver
Benthic Station-Holding
    • Head-first in current to reduce drag
    • Slower the water, the higher the angle
    • Faster the water, the lower the angle
    • Change their pectoral angles to make negative lift, friction and combat downstream drag
    • Sit concave up so water deflected up for a clockwise vortex (makes LOTS of negative lift)
pectoral fins of skates and rays
Pectoral Fins of Skates and Rays
  • Most batoids use strict undulation or oscillations
  • Undulatory
    • Similar to rowing, making it drag-based
    • Efficient at slow speeds
    • Reduces drag
    • Highly maneuverable
  • Oscillatory
    • ‘Flying’
    • Fast-cruising
    • Provides greater lift
    • Not as maneuverable
Fully benthic rays
    • Low-amplitude waves
    • High-fin beat (number of waves)
    • More undulatory so lateral line usable
    • Do not cross ventral body axis
  • Intermediate
    • Moderate amplitude
    • Moderate fin beat (number of waves)
    • Active benthic
  • Fully pelagic rays
    • High-amplitude waves
    • Low-fin beat (number of waves)
    • Glide and preserve energy
    • Cross ventral body axis equally up and down
pectoral fins of holocephalans
Pectoral Fins of Holocephalans
  • Large, flexible
  • Leading edge flapped
  • Undulatory waves down fin
diversity of fin and body shape
Diversity of Fin and Body Shape
  • Threshers
  • Oceanic Whitetips
  • Hammerheads
summary shark
  • Horizontal/Steady Swimming
    • Positive body angle
    • Caudal for lift and thrust
    • Pectorals create no lift
  • Vertical Maneuvering
    • Positive/Negative body angle for rising or sinking
    • Pectorals change angle to rise or sink
    • Pectorals generate positive and negative lift
  • Station-holding
    • Change body angle for flow rate
    • Pectorals held concave up to create negative lift
summary batoids and holocephalans
SummaryBatoids and Holocephalans
  • Batoids
    • Most use appendage propulsion
    • Undulatory/oscillatory continuum
  • Holocephalans are a combination of undulation and oscillation