Volume 52 (2009) Issue 175 Pages 11-20
Fish have appeared since Precambrian more than 500 million years ago. Yet, there are still much untamed areas for fish propulsion research. The swordfish has evolved a light thin/high crescent tail fin for pushing a large amount of water backward with a small velocity difference. Together with a streamlined forward-enlarged thin/high body and forward-biased dorsal fin enclosing sizable muscles as the power source, the swordfish can thus achieve unimaginably high propulsion efficiency and an awesome maximum speed of 130 km/h as the speed champion at sea. This paper presents the innovative concepts of “kidnapped airfoils” and “circulating horsepower” using a vivid neat-digit model to illustrate the swordfish’s superior swimming strategy. The body and tail work like two nimble deformable airfoils tightly linked to use their lift forces in a mutually beneficial manner. Moreover, they use sensitive rostrum/lateral-line sensors to detect upcoming/ambient water pressure and attain the best attack angle to capture the body lift power aided by the forward-biased dorsal fin to compensate for most of the water resistance power. This strategy can thus enhance the propulsion efficiency greatly to easily exceed an astonishing 500%. Meanwhile, this amazing synergy of force/beauty also solves the perplexity of dolphin’s Gray paradox lasting for more than 70 years and gives revelations for panoramic fascinating future studies.