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Published in: The Journal of Experimental Bilogy, Vol. 212, 2009


The thrust-generating mechanism of a prolate hydromedusa Sarsia tubulosa and an oblate hydromedusa Aequorea victoria was investigated by solving the incompressible Navier–Stokes equations in the swirl-free cylindrical coordinates. The calculations clearly show the vortex dynamics related to the thrust-generating mechanism, which is very important for understanding the underlying propulsion mechanism. The calculations for the prolate jetting hydromedusa S. tubulosa indicate the formation of a single starting vortex ring for each pulse cycle with a relatively high vortex formation number. However, the calculations for the oblate jet-paddling hydromedusa A. victoria indicate shedding of the opposite-signed vortex rings very close to each other and the formation of large induced velocities along the line of interaction as the vortices move away from the hydromedusa in the wake. In addition to this jet propulsion mechanism, the hydromedusa's bell margin acts like a paddle and the highly flexible bell margin deforms in such a way that the low pressure leeward side of the bell margin has a projected area in the direction of motion. This thrust is particularly important during refilling of the subumbrella cavity where the stopping vortex causes significant pressure drag. The swimming performances based on our numerical simulations, such as swimming velocity, thrust, power requirement and efficiency, were computed and support the idea that jet propulsion is very effective for rapid body movement but is energetically costly and less efficient compared with the jet-paddling propulsion mechanism.

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