Swimming in a group allows fish to move while consuming less energy
Fish swim in schools to save energy - science news in short

Scientists have tried to understand for quite a while now if the schooling behavior of fish enables them to gain an energetic advantage when swimming in flowing waters. A new study shows that indeed, this is the case. Researchers used a highly detailed simulation of the interactions between the swimming fish and the water moving around them. The study determined that the fish swam most energetically when they swam not one after the other, as previously suggested, but at an offset from the swimming direction of the leader. The results have applications for improving energy-efficient swimming for underwater drones or similar devices.

The fish swimming in the back harnessed the vortices generated by the leader. They intercept them with their heads, splitting the vortex into fragments which are then guided down their bodies. The progress of these vortices supplies the fish with thrust without robbing the leader of energy. Credit: ETH Zurich

Read the full story: ETH Zurich
Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

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