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How do fish break the speed limit?
Wardle, C.S.; Videler, J.J. (1980). How do fish break the speed limit? Nature (Lond.) 284(5755): 445-447
In: Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science. Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 0028-0836, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

    Swimming; Pisces [WoRMS]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Wardle, C.S.
  • Videler, J.J.

    Many studies have shown that tail beat frequency of teleost fish is closely related to their swimming speed. These findings were developed further by Wardle, who showed that maximum tail beat frequency and thus swimming speed could be predicted by measuring the twitch contraction time of the fast swimming muscles. The contraction time increases with the length of the fish and decreases with increase of temperatures. Several authors have observed and recorded swimming speeds greater than the predicted speed limit. Brill and Dizon have shown that five skipjack tuna (L = o.37-0.43 m) had muscle contraction times similar to non-scombroid teleost species of this size measured by Wardle. It seems therefore that Scombridae do not have faster maximum tail beat frequency than other teleosts of the same size and temperature. The authors show how this paradox can be solved by the fish using a different swimming style, requiring greater power and efficient interaction between the propelling surfaces and the water, but allowing the fish to move twice as far for each tail beat.

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