Dolphins 10 times stronger than human athletes: Study

05:02:00

Washington: Dolphins routinely produce 10 times more power than the fittest human athletes do, a new study has found. The findings explain why dolphins seem to swim with ease next to boats propelled by powerful engines.
Previously, it was believed that dolphins must use a trick of fluid mechanics to do so. Lead author Frank Fish, who heads the Liquid Life Laboratory at West Chester University in US, set out to see how much power a dolphin can produce. "I used some hydrodynamics models that looked at the motion of the flukes (dolphin tails) and came up with the realisation that dolphins could produce very high amounts of power," he said.
Researchers then used a technique designed to measure the muscle power of Olympic athletes on dolphins, 'Discovery News' reported. They studied a pair of dolphins named Primo and Puka. With a SCUBA tank of compressed air and a garden soaker hose, the researchers produced a curtain of bubbles at UCSC's Long Marine Laboratory. 
Filming the marine mammals as they swam along the length of the bubble curtain, the team could clearly see the vortices set spinning by the dolphins' flukes demarcating the powerful jet of water propelled backward as the animals surged forward. Calculations based on the measurements of these vortices reveal how much power a swimmer is producing.
In the confines of the experiment area, the dolphins cruised by at just over 3.4 meters per second. While doing so, they produced an impressive 549 watts. When the dolphins accelerated, they generated a surprising 5,400 W, making them 10 times more powerful than the fittest human athletes, researchers said.
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