Bioinspir Biomim. 2023 Nov 23. doi: 10.1088/1748-3190/ad0f32. Online ahead of print.
The three-dimensional morphology of swordfish skin roughness remains poorly understood. Subsequently, its importance to the overall physiology and hydrodynamic performance of the swordfish is yet to be determined. This is at least partly attributable to the inherent difficulty in making the required measurements of these complex biological surfaces. To address this, here two sets of novel high-resolution measurements of swordfish skin, obtained using a modular optical coherence tomography system and a gel-based stereo-profilometer, are reported and compared. Both techniques are shown to provide three-dimensional morphological data at micron-scale resolution. The results indicate that the skin surface is populated with spiny roughness elements, typically elongated in the streamwise direction, in groups of up to six, and in good agreement with previously reported information based on coarser measurements. In addition, our data also provide new information on the spatial distribution and variability of these roughness features. Two approaches, one continuous and another discrete, are used to derive various topographical metrics that characterise the surface texture of the skin. The information provided here can be used to develop statistically representative synthetic models of swordfish skin roughness.