Supplementary material from "Creating underwater vision through wavy whiskers: a review of the flow sensing mechanisms and biomimetic potential of seal whiskers"

Posted on 12.10.2021 - 16:34
Seals are known to use their highly sensitive whiskers to precisely follow the hydrodynamic trail left behind by prey. Studies estimate that a seal can track a herring that is swimming as far as 180 m away, indicating an incredible detection apparatus on par with the echolocation system of dolphins and porpoises. This remarkable sensing capability is enabled by the unique undulating structural morphology of the whisker that suppresses vortex-induced vibrations (VIV) and thus increases the signal-to-noise ratio of the flow sensing whiskers. In other words, the whiskers vibrate minimally due to the seal's swimming motion, eliminating most of the self-induced noise and making them ultrasensitive to the vortices in the wake of escaping prey. Due to this impressive ability, the seal whisker has attracted much attention in the scientific community, encompassing multiple fields of sensory biology, fluid mechanics, biomimetic flow sensing and soft robotics. This article presents a comprehensive review of the seal whisker literature, covering the behavioural experiments on real seals, VIV suppression capabilities enabled by the undulating geometry, wake vortex-sensing mechanisms, morphology and material properties and finally engineering applications inspired by the shape and functionality of seal whiskers. Promising directions for future research are proposed.

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Zheng, Xingwen; Kamat, Amar M.; Cao, Ming; Kottapalli, Ajay Giri Prakash (2021): Supplementary material from "Creating underwater vision through wavy whiskers: a review of the flow sensing mechanisms and biomimetic potential of seal whiskers". The Royal Society. Collection. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.5658543.v1
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