Bristled shark skin: a microgeometry for boundary layer control?

Bioinspir Biomim. 2008 Dec;3(4):046005. doi: 10.1088/1748-3182/3/4/046005. Epub 2008 Oct 7.


There exists evidence that some fast-swimming shark species may have the ability to bristle their scales during fast swimming. Experimental work using a water tunnel facility has been performed to investigate the flow field over and within a bristled shark skin model submerged within a boundary layer to deduce the possible boundary layer control mechanisms being used by these fast-swimming sharks. Fluorescent dye flow visualization provides evidence of the formation of embedded cavity vortices within the scales. Digital particle image velocimetry (DPIV) data, used to evaluate the cavity vortex formation and boundary layer characteristics close to the surface, indicate increased momentum in the slip layer forming above the scales. This increase in flow velocity close to the shark's skin is indicative of boundary layer control mechanisms leading to separation control and possibly transition delay for the bristled shark skin microgeometry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomimetics / methods*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Models, Biological*
  • Rheology / methods*
  • Sharks / anatomy & histology*
  • Sharks / physiology*
  • Skin / anatomy & histology*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Surface Properties
  • Swimming / physiology*