Tubercle whale power
More than 90 per cent of all large predatory fish in the world have been fished out in the last 50 years due to commercial fishing, as confirmed in a study presented in Nature (Myers & Worm 2003). With this loss of biodiversity, we also lose billions of years of natural evolutionary wisdom from which we have much to learn (see biomimicry). One great example of how this wisdom can be tapped into is how humpback whales have served as the inspiration for more efficient wind turbines.
Humpback whales inspire wind turbines
Humpback whales gain most of their flexibility thanks to the bumps on their fins. These bumps create turbulence in the water and channels with fast-moving water in them are formed. This allows the humpback whale to get a grip on the water and make fast turns even at low speeds.
The Whale Power Company has taken advantage of the benefits of hump formations in the development of more efficient wind turbines. The aerodynamic benefits have been tested to improve lifting capacity by 8%, reducing aerodynamic drag by 32% and improving the attack angle by 40%. The whale-shaped turbines generate electricity at lower wind speeds than before. They can endure more turbulent air currents and are quieter than many conventional wind turbines.
This technology could also be used to improve the safety of aircraft, fan technology, and more. An important advantage of this technology is that it raises the value of preserving biodiversity. We have much to learn from nature and this knowledge can lead to a win-win situation for both ecosystems and human beings.