Research

Hammerhead Hydrodynamics

Hammerhead shark.

Hammerhead sharks have some of the most distinctive craniums in the ocean, which begs the question: how do they swim with that head? New computational fluid dynamics studies suggest that their long foil-shaped heads help the sharks maneuver swiftly, but they come at the cost of substantially higher drag. The researchers found that drag on the hammerhead’s cranium required energy expenditures more than 10 times higher than other sharks, but since the study looked at heads only, it’s possible that the rest of the shark’s positioning helps mitigate that cost. (Image credit: shark – J. Allert, CFD – M. Gaylord et al.; research credit: M. Gaylord et al.; via NYTimes; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

Pressure contours and streamlines around a hammerhead shark head.
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