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The Complex Shear Modulus of Humpback Whale Blubber

[+] Author Affiliations
Michael P. Summers, Jonathan A. Holst, John P. Parmigiani

Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Paper No. SBC2013-14848, pp. V01AT09A026; 2 pages
  • ASME 2013 Summer Bioengineering Conference
  • Volume 1A: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms; Active and Reactive Soft Matter; Atherosclerosis; BioFluid Mechanics; Education; Biotransport Phenomena; Bone, Joint and Spine Mechanics; Brain Injury; Cardiac Mechanics; Cardiovascular Devices, Fluids and Imaging; Cartilage and Disc Mechanics; Cell and Tissue Engineering; Cerebral Aneurysms; Computational Biofluid Dynamics; Device Design, Human Dynamics, and Rehabilitation; Drug Delivery and Disease Treatment; Engineered Cellular Environments
  • Sunriver, Oregon, USA, June 26–29, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: Bioengineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5560-7
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


Further investigations of the mechanical properties of whale blubber will benefit its morphology and those who use it. Located below the dermas, blubber is an insular tissue constructed of a lipid matrix cross-weaved with strong, structural collagen and elastic fiber bundles. The blubber transitions into the superficial fascia layer, a loose connective tissue, which sheaths the muscle surrounding the whale. [1] Blubber should behave viscoelastically because it is a soft tissue. [2] The complex shear modulus G* = G′+iG″ is a viscoelastic property commonly used in defining soft tissues. It is comprised of both an elastic energy storage term (G′) and a viscous energy dissipation term (G″). Apart from adding to the morphology of whale blubber, these properties can currently be used for the improvement of certain whale tracking tag designs. The tags that would gain from these measurements deploy remotely and anchor subdermally in the body of the whale, near the dorsal fin. Once attached, they transmit a radio signal to a monitoring satellite. Knowing the migratory and behavioral patterns of whales allows for the adjustment of human activities to help in the recovery of endangered species.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME
Topics: Shear modulus



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