Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Sea Lion 'Aerospace': High-Thrust, Low Wake

Megan Leftwich, George Washington University | August 12, 2015 01:23am ET

This article was originally published on The Conversation. The publication contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

The California sea lion has a unique way of moving through the ocean. This highly maneuverable aquatic mammal produces thrust primarily with its foreflippers – the ones it has where you have hands. Despite being fast, efficient and agile, this sea lion swimming technique is quite different from the way other large fish and marine mammals move through the water.

It wouldn’t be easy to design a system from scratch that could match the sea lion’s specifications – they produce high levels of thrust while leaving little traceable wake structure. So it makes sense to learn as much as we can about how they do it – with the thought that someday we might be able to engineer something that mimics our biological model.

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