Computational fluid dynamics of flow regime and hydrodynamic forces generated by a gliding North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
Accurate estimates of drag on marine animals are required to investigate the locomotive cost, propulsive efficiency, and the impacts of entanglement if the animal is carrying fishing gear. In this study, we performed computational fluid dynamics analysis of a 10 m (length over all) right whale to obtain baseline measurements of drag on the animal. Swimming speeds covering known right whale speed range (0.125 m/s to 8 m/s) were tested. We found a weak dependence between drag coefficient and Reynolds number. At a swimming speed of 2 m/s, we analyzed the boundary layer thicknesses, the flow regimes, and drag components. We found the thickest boundary layer at the lateral sides of the peduncle, whereas the boundary layer thickness over the outer part of the flukes was less than 1.7 cm. Laminar flow occurred over the anterior ~0.6 LoA and turbulent flow from ~0.8 LoA to the fluke notch. On the surfaces of the flukes outside of the body wake region, flow was laminar. Our most significant finding is that the drag coefficient (0.0071–0.0059) of a right whale for swimming speeds ranging from 0.25 m/s to 2 m/s is approximately twice that of many previous estimates for cetaceans.
Wu, CY; Nowacek, DP; Nousek-McGregor, AE; McGregor, R; Howle, LE
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