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Drifting dynamics of the bluebottle (Physalia physalis)
Lee, D.; Schaeffer, A.; Groeskamp, S. (2021). Drifting dynamics of the bluebottle (Physalia physalis). Ocean Sci. 17(5): 1341-1351.
In: Ocean Science. Copernicus: Göttingen. ISSN 1812-0784; e-ISSN 1812-0792, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Lee, D.
  • Schaeffer, A.
  • Groeskamp, S., meer


    Physalia physalis , also called the bluebottle in Australia, is a colonial animal resembling a jellyfish that is well known to beachgoers for the painful stings delivered by its tentacles. Despite being a common occurrence, the origin of the bluebottle before reaching the coastline is not well understood, and neither is the way it drifts at the surface of the ocean. Previous studies used numerical models in combination with simple assumptions to calculate the drift of this species, excluding complex drifting dynamics. In this study, we provide a new parameterization for Lagrangian modelling of the bluebottle by considering the similarities between the bluebottle and a sailboat. This allows us to compute the hydrodynamic and aerodynamic forces acting on the bluebottle and use an equilibrium condition to create a generalized model for calculating the drifting speed and course of the bluebottle under any wind and ocean current conditions. The generalized model shows that the velocity of the bluebottle is a linear combination of the ocean current velocity and the wind velocity scaled by a coefficient (“shape parameter”) and multiplied by a rotation matrix. Adding assumptions to this generalized model allows us to retrieve models used in previous literature. We discuss the sensitivity of the model to different parameters (shape, angle of attack and sail camber) and explore different cases of wind and current conditions to provide new insights into the drifting dynamics of the bluebottle.

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