Hydrodynamics of the bluegill sunfish C-start escape response: three-dimensional simulations and comparison with experimental data Academic Article uri icon


  • In this work we study the hydrodynamics of a bluegill sunfish performing a C-start maneuver in unprecedented detail using 3-D numerical simulations guided by previous laboratory experiments with live fish. The 3-D fish body geometry and kinematics are reconstructed from the experiments using high-speed video and prescribed as input to the numerical simulation. The calculated instantaneous flow fields at various stages of the C-start maneuver are compared with the two-dimensional particle image velocimetry measurements, and are shown to capture essentially all flow features observed in the measurements with good quantitative accuracy; the simulations reveal the experimentally observed three primary jet flow patterns whose momentum time series are in very good agreement with the measured flow field. The simulations elucidate for the first time the complex 3-D structure of the wake during C-starts, revealing an intricate vortical structure consisting of multiple connected vortex loops at the end of the C-start. We also find that the force calculated based on the 3-D flow field has higher magnitudes than that implied by the jet momentum on the midplane, and it exhibits large and rapid fluctuations during the two stages of the C-start. These fluctuations are physical and are related to the change in the direction of the acceleration of the fish body, which changes the location of the high and low pressure pockets around the fish.

author list (cited authors)

  • Borazjani, I., Sotiropoulos, F., Tytell, E. D., & Lauder, G. V.

citation count

  • 72

publication date

  • January 2012