Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2013


To gain insight into the function of the dorsal fins in white-spotted bamboo sharks (Orectolobiformes: Hemiscyillidae) during steady swimming, data on three-dimensional kinematics and electromyographic recordings were collected. Bamboo sharks were induced to swim at 0.5 and 0.75 body lengths per second in a laminar flow tank. Displacement, lag and angles were analyzed from high-speed video images. Onset, offset, duration, duty cycle and asynchrony index were calculated from three muscle implants on each side of each dorsal fin. The dorsal fins were displaced more laterally than the undulating body. In addition, the dorsal tips had larger lateral displacement than the trailing edges. Increased speed was accompanied by an increase in tail beat frequency with constant tail beat amplitude. However, lateral displacement of the fins and duration of muscle bursts remained relatively constant with increased speed. The range of lateral motion was greater for the second dorsal fin (mean 33.3◦) than for the first dorsal fin (mean 28.4◦). Bending within the fin was greater for the second dorsal fin (mean 43.8◦) than for the first dorsal fin (mean 30.8◦). Muscle onset and offset among implants on the same side of each dorsal fin was similar. Three-dimensional conformation of the dorsal fins was caused by interactions between muscle activity, material properties, and incident flow. Alternating bilateral activity occurred in both dorsal fins, further supporting the active role of these hydrofoils in thrust production during steady swimming. The dorsal fins in bamboo sharks are capable of thrust production during steady swimming and do not appear to function as stabilizing structures.


Final pdf version available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.zool.2013.05.001


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