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Journal of Experimental Biology








Although the pulsed jet is often considered the foundation of a squid's locomotive system, the lateral fins also probably play an important role in swimming, potentially providing thrust, lift and dynamic stability as needed. Fin morphology and movement vary greatly among squid species, but the locomotive role of the fins is not well understood. To begin to elucidate the locomotive role of the fins in squids, fin hydrodynamics were studied in the brief squid Lolliguncula brevis, a species that exhibits a wide range of fin movements depending on swimming speed. Individual squid were trained to swim in both the arms-first and tail-first orientations against currents in a water tunnel seeded with light-reflective particles. Particle-laden water around the fins was illuminated with lasers and videotaped so that flow dynamics around the fins could be analyzed using digital particle image velocimetry (DPIV). Time-averaged forces generated by the fin were quantified from vorticity fields of the fin wake. During the low swimming speeds considered in this study [<2.5 dorsal mantle lengths (DML) per second], L. brevis exhibited four unique fin wake patterns, each with distinctive vortical structures: (1) fin mode I, in which one vortex is shed with each downstroke, generally occurring at low speeds; (2) fin mode II, an undulatory mode in which a continuous linked chain of vortices is produced; (3) fin mode III, in which one vortex is shed with each downstroke and upstroke, and; (4) fin mode IV, in which a discontinuous chain of linked double vortex structures is produced. All modes were detected during tail-first swimming but only fin modes II and III were observed during arms-first swimming. The fins produced horizontal and vertical forces of varying degrees depending on stroke phase, swimming speed, and swimming orientation. During tail-first swimming, the fins functioned primarily as stabilizers at low speeds before shifting to propulsors as speed increased, all while generating net lift. During arms-first swimming, the fins primarily provided lift with thrust production playing a reduced role. These results demonstrate the lateral fins are an integral component of the complex locomotive system of L. brevis, producing lift and thrust forces through different locomotive modes.

Original Publication Citation

Stewart, W. J., Bartol, I. K., & Krueger, P. S. (2010). Hydrodynamic fin function of brief squid, Lolliguncula brevis. Journal of Experimental Biology, 213(12), 2009-2024. doi:10.1242/jeb.039057