Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering


Washkewicz College of Engineering

First Advisor

Zhang, Wei

Subject Headings

Biomechanics, Fluid Dynamics


Seals are able to accurately detect minute disturbances in the ambient flow
environment using their whiskers, which is attributed to the exceptional capability of
their whiskers to suppress vortex-induced vibrations in the wake. To explore potential applications for designing smart flow devices, such as high-sensitivity underwater
flow sensors and drag reduction components, researchers have studied how the role
of some key parameters of whisker-like morphology affect the wake structure. Due to
the naturally presented variation in size and curvature along the length of whiskers,
it is not well understood how a real whisker changes the surrounding flow and the
vortex shedding behavior. This study aims to detail the flow statistics around a real
Elephant Seal whisker at low Reynolds numbers (i.e. one hundred) using particle image velocimetry in a water channel. Wake flow structures are inspected and compared
between two Elephant Seal whiskers (undulating) and a California Sea Lion whisker
(smooth), along with idealized whisker-like models. Undulating whiskers significantly
change the mean flow properties and suppress turbulence intensities in the wake region as compared to the smooth whisker at the tested Re. The undulating whiskers
are able to create a low turbulence intensity area directly behind the whiskers trailing,
vproviding these whiskers with their Vortex Induced Vibration reduction properties.