Many marine biologists study the behavioral patterns of different aquatic life by attaching tags to them and tracking their movements. In this project, the client is interested in studying pelagic species, specifically blue and yellow fin tuna. To track these tuna, pop-up satellite archival tags (PSAT) are attached to the body of the animal. The tags collect data for the period of one year and the pop-up to float to the surface to transmit data via ARGOS (Satellite). Unfortunately, these tags release prematurely from tuna due to the large drag forces experienced at high velocities tuna are capable of reaching.
Our project focused on reducing the drag forces created on the PSAT through the implementation of vortex generators. To accomplish this, computational fluid dynamics was used to analyze fluid flow over the tags, and design vortex generators that are likely to reduce drag. These vortex generators were then 3D printed and physically tested using a tow tank and data logging software to assess their performance.