Letter | Published:

The “Problematic” Hydrodynamic Performance of Gero's Great Barracuda

Naturevolume 212pages215216 (1966) | Download Citation



BAINBRIDGE1 rightly questioned Gero's2 data and calculations on the swimming performance of a great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda (Walbaum)) measured at Bimini, Bahamas, British West Indies, but suspicion was cast on the wrong datum. He doubted the validity of the swimming speed measurement of 12.16 m/sec or 10 body-lengths/sec for a 121.6 cm fish weighing 9.08 kg. This measurement must have been made on a swimming burst, since non-feeding solitary adult great barracudas which I have observed at Bimini either hover motionless in mid-water or slowly patrol their territories, visiting each location at nearly regular intervals. The great barracuda's burst speed is substantially less than the burst speeds of yellowfin tuna and wahoo of approximately the same body length which were measured by Walters and Fierstine3, so there is no particular reason to doubt Gero's measurement. Gero stated his fish had 1.816 kg of propulsive muscle, however, which is 20 per cent of the body weight. Bainbridge accepted this figure, although such a small muscle mass is otherwise unheard of among active epipelagic and littoral actinopterygians.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Bainbridge, R., Symp. Zool. Soc., Lond. No. 5, 13 (1961).

  2. 2

    Gero, D. R., Amer. Mus. Novitates, No. 1601 (1952).

  3. 3

    Walters, V., and Fierstine, H. L., Nature, 202, 208 (1964).

  4. 4

    Brett, J. R., Trans. Roy. Soc. Canada, 1, Ser. 4, Sect. 3, 441 (1963).

  5. 5

    Hill, A. V., Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond., B, 126, 136 (1939).

Download references

Author information


  1. Department of Zoology, University of California, Los Angeles



  1. Search for VLADIMIR WALTERS in:

About this article

Publication history

Issue Date




By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.