Numerical investigation of the hydrodynamics of anguilliform swimming in the transitional and inertial flow regimes Academic Article uri icon


  • We employ numerical simulation to investigate the hydrodynamic performance of anguilliform locomotion and compare it with that of carangiform swimming as the Reynolds number (Re) and the tail-beat frequency (Strouhal number, St) are systematically varied. The virtual swimmer is a 3-D lamprey-like flexible body undulating with prescribed experimental kinematics of anguilliform type. Simulations are carried out for three Reynolds numbers spanning the transitional and inertial flow regimes, Re=300, 4000 (viscous flow), and infinity (inviscid flow). The net mean force is found to be mainly dependent on the tail-beat frequency rather than the tail-beat amplitude. The critical Strouhal number, St, at which the net mean force becomes zero (constant-speed self-propulsion) is, similar to carangiform swimming, a decreasing function of Re and approaches the range of St numbers at which most anguilliform swimmers swim in nature (St approximately 0.45) only as Re increases. The anguilliform swimmer's force time series is characterized by significantly smaller fluctuations above the mean than that for carangiform swimmers. In stark contrast with carangiform swimmers, the propulsive efficiency of anguilliform swimmers at St is not an increasing function of Re but instead is maximized in the transitional regime. Furthermore, the power required for anguilliform swimming is less than that for the carangiform swimmer at the same Re. We also show that the form drag decreases while viscous drag increases as St increases. Finally, our simulations reinforce our previous finding for carangiform swimmers that the 3-D wake structure depends primarily on the Strouhal number.

author list (cited authors)

  • Borazjani, I., & Sotiropoulos, F.

citation count

  • 145

publication date

  • February 2009