The dolphins’ cruising, generally, with an extremely high thrust efficiency and low drag, which attracted many researchers’ wide attention. It is hoped that we can improve the hydrodynamic performance of underwater vehicle by studying the thrust characteristics of dolphin’s kick and the relationship between the formation of vortex and the thrust generation. However, previous work is mostly focused on investigation of hydrodynamic performance of dolphin fluke motion with a rigid tail which means that the locomotion of caudal fin is defined only by the oscillating motion, without the chordwise deformation. In this paper, the dolphin’s fluke motion is realized by a flexible caudal fin which is defined by a combination of oscillating motion and chordwise deformation.
The simulation of the dolphin fluke motion is achieved by STRA-CCM, and dynamic moving mesh is implemented for different stroke functions. This paper primarily analyzed the thrust characteristics and the formation of vortex of dolphin fluke motion, then compared with the available data from previous work with rigid tail. It can be found that the structure of the vortex generated by the dolphin fluke motion with flexible caudal fin is different from a rigid one. Finally, by analyzing the instantaneous flow condition behind the dolphin caudal fin, it can get the reason why the thrust generated by the flexible caudal fin is larger than rigid one.