Drag Reduction for Swimming Shrimp

A marsh grass shrimp swimming.

Marsh grass shrimp, despite their small size, are zippy swimmers. They move using a series of closely-spaced legs that stroke asynchronously. Researchers found that the flexibility and stiffness of the legs are critical for the shrimp’s efficiency. During the power stroke, the shrimp’s leg is held stiff, maximizing the force it’s able to transfer to the water. But during the forward-moving recovery stroke, the shrimp bends its legs almost horizontal and presses both legs in the pair together tightly. This action minimizes the area of the leg pair and reduces the drag they cause as they move into position for the next stroke. (Image, video, and research credit: N. Tack et al.; via Ars Technica; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

A close-up view of the shrimp’s leg as it swims.
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