The increased effciency of fish swimming in a school

C.K. Hemelrijk, D.A.P. Reid, H. Hildenbrandt, J.T. Padding

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169 Citations (Scopus)
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There is increasing evidence that fish gain energetic benefits from the hydrodynamic interactions when they swim in a school. The most recent indications of such benefits are a lower tail (or fin) beat at the back of a school and reduced oxygen consumption in schooling fish versus solitary ones. How such advantages may arise is poorly understood. Current hydrodynamic theories concern either fish swimming side by side or in a diamond configuration and they largely ignore effects of viscosity and interactions among wakes and individuals. In reality, however, hydrodynamic effects are complex and fish swim in many configurations. Since these hydrodynamic effects are difficult to study empirically, we investigate them in a computer model by incorporating viscosity and interactions among wakes and with individuals. We compare swimming efficiency of model fish (based on shapes of mullets of 126 mm) travelling solitarily and in schools at several interindividual distances in four different configurations (diamond, rectangular, phalanx and line). We show that these fish always swim more efficiently in a school than alone (except in a dense phalanx). We indicate how this efficiency may emerge from several kinds of interactions between wakes and individuals. As individuals in our simulations are not even intending to exploit the wake, gains in efficiency are obtained more easily than previously thought.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-521
JournalFish and Fisheries
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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