A large, sea-going water tunnel was used in various studies of shark swimming performance. The critical swimming velocity (Ucrit, an index of aerobically sustainable swimming speed) of a 70 cm long lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris Poey) was determined to be 1.1 Ls−1, where L is body length. The Ucrit of the leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata Girard) was found to vary inversely with body size; from about 1.6Ls−1in 30–50cm sharks to 0.6LS−1 in 120cm sharks. Large Triakis adopt ram gill ventilation at swimming speeds between 27 and 60cms−1, which is similar to the speed at which this transition occurs in teleosts. Analyses of tail-beat frequency (TBF) in relation to velocity and body size show that smaller Triakis have a higher TBF and can swim at higher relative speeds. TBF, however, approaches a maximal value at speeds approaching Ucrit, suggesting that red muscle contraction velocity may limit sustained swimming speed. The TBF of both Triakis and Negaprion rises at a faster rate with swimming velocity than does that of the more thunniform mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus Rafinesque). This is consistent with the expectation that, at comparable relative speeds, sharks adapted for efficient swimming should have a lower TBF. The rates of O2 consumption of swimming lemon and mako sharks are among the highest yet measured for elasmobranchs and are comparable to those of cruise-adapted teleosts.

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