Day in and day out, humans experience technical advances that shape various industries. Hydraulics are one method that certain industries, ranging from aerospace and construction to entertainment and manufacturing, employ on a daily basis. Hydraulics are always advancing, whether in the form of better functioning parts, increased precision, or durability. What some people aren’t aware of is the fact that examples of hydraulics can also be found naturally, in nature. We’re not talking about bulldozers or cranes out in the middle of the forest, rather there are examples of hydraulics in animals.
One example of this is the tuna fish, which can swim up to 45 miles per hour. Michael Phelps, who generally clocks in somewhere between 5 and 6 miles, can’t even get close to beating these fish in a race. But what makes these tuna move so fast through the water? It is increased muscle, more aerodynamic fins, or sleeker scales? Actually, what makes tuna so fast in the water is partly due to a hydraulic system that operates sets of specialized fins.
Barbara Block has been studying tuna for decades in California, when she and another researcher came across a system of muscles, bones and channels on the fins of tuna. The researchers were confused and intrigued by the strange system and wanted to understand their purpose. By injecting a colored gel, the researchers were able to trace the channels mapped out by the dye and made an exhilarating discovery.
According to their research, the dye illuminated a chamber at the base of the fins along with smaller channels that ran along the back of the fish. Muscles and the fins also turned blue, alerting the researchers to the fact that the fish could control individual muscles. By contracting muscles at the chamber along the back, the tuna could push fluid out to the smaller channels and actually elevate the fin.
Taking their research a step further, Block and her assistants analyzed vides of tuna in massive research tanks to see if they could raise and lower their fins and specific angles. After analyzing the data, it was determined that tuna could actually use the fin as a stabilizer, like a yacht keel, to prevent themselves from rolling over.
This amazing discovery is just one example of how hydraulics play a crucial role beyond assisting humans in work duties. Hydraulics are so crucial and helpful, that they were adapted into the evolution of animal species.
At Bernell Hydraulics, we know how important hydraulic systems are for our customers. That is why we have strived to provide the best hydraulic components and services since 1977. Over the last 42 years, we have established a solid reputation. If you are in need of quality hydraulic components, repair or preventative maintenance services, let us help!