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J Exp Biol. 2003 Aug;206(Pt 16):2749-58.

Swimming performance studies on the eastern Pacific bonito Sarda chiliensis, a close relative of the tunas (family Scombridae) II. Kinematics.

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Department of Biological Science, California State University Fullerton, Fullerton, CA 92834-6850, USA.


The swimming kinematics of the eastern Pacific bonito Sarda chiliensis at a range of sustained speeds were analyzed to test the hypothesis that the bonito's swimming mode differs from the thunniform locomotor mode of tunas. Eight bonito (fork length FL 47.5+/-2.1 cm, mass 1.25+/-0.15 kg) (mean +/- S.D.) swam at speeds of 50-130 cm s(-1) at 18+/-2 degrees C in the same temperature-controlled water tunnel that was used in previous studies of tunas. Kinematics variables, quantified from 60 Hz video recordings and analyzed using a computerized, two-dimensional motion analysis system, were compared with published data for similar sized tunas at comparable speeds. Bonito tailbeat frequency, tailbeat amplitude and stride length all increased significantly with speed. Neither yaw (6.0+/-0.6%FL) nor propulsive wavelength (120+/-65% fish total length) varied with speed, and there were no mass or body-length effects on the kinematics variables for the size range of bonitos used. Relative to similar sized yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) and skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis) tunas at similar speeds, the bonito has a lower tailbeat frequency, a higher yaw and a greater stride length. The lateral displacement and bending angle of each intervertebral joint during a complete tailbeat cycle were determined for the bonito at a swimming speed of 90 cm s(-1). The pattern of mean maximum lateral displacement (z(max)) and mean maximum bending angle (beta(max)) along the body in the bonito differed from that of both chub mackerel Scomber japonicus and kawakawa tuna Euthynnus affinis; z(max) was highest in the bonito. This study verifies that S. chiliensis is a carangiform swimmer and supports the hypothesis that the thunniform locomotor mode is a derived tuna characteristic associated with changes in this group's myotomal architecture. The finding that yaw and z(max) were greater in the bonito than in both mackerels and tunas suggests that swimming kinematics in the bonito is not intermediate between that of tunas and mackerels, as would be predicted on the basis of morphological characteristics.

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