The swimming kinematics of two active pelagic fishes from the family Scombridae were compared to test the hypothesis that the kawakawa tuna (Euthynnus affinis) uses the thunniform mode of locomotion, in which the body is held more rigid and undergoes less lateral movement in comparison with the chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus), which uses the carangiform swimming mode. This study, the first quantitative kinematic comparison of size-matched scombrids, confirmed significantly different swimming kinematics in the two species. Ten kawakawa (15.1-25.5 cm fork length, FL) and eight chub mackerel (14.0-23.4 cm FL), all juveniles, were videotaped at 120 Hz while swimming at several speeds up to their maximum sustained speed at 24 degrees C. Computerized motion analysis was used to digitize specific points on the body in sequential video frames, and kinematic variables were quantified from the progression of the points over time. At a given speed, kawakawa displayed a significantly greater tailbeat frequency, but lower stride length, tailbeat amplitude and propulsive wavelength, than chub mackerel when size effects were accounted for. Midline curvatures subdivided on the basis of X-rays into individual vertebral elements were used to quantify axial bending in a subset of the fish studied. Maximum intervertebral lateral displacement and intervertebral flexion angles were significantly lower along most of the body in kawakawa than in chub mackerel, indicating that the kawakawa undergoes less axial flexion than does the chub mackerel, resulting in lower tailbeat amplitudes. However, lateral movement at the tip of the snout, or yaw, did not differ significantly interspecifically. Despite these differences, the net cost of transport was the same in the two species, and the total cost was higher in the kawakawa, indicating that the tuna juveniles are not more efficient swimmers.

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