Ocean hitchhiker’s sucker mechanism offers potential for underwater adhesion


A new study has revealed how remora suckerfish detach themselves from the surfaces they’ve clung to—and how the mechanism could provide inspiration for future reversible underwater adhesion devices.

The research, by an international, multidisciplinary team working across robotics, comparative biology, and electrical engineering, investigated the detachment mechanism of the remora’s suction disc, and experimented with how it could be applied in underwater robots.

The team’s findings are published in the IOP Publishing journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.

Lead author Professor Li Wen, from Beihang University, Beijing, said: “Marine organisms mainly use two methods of adhesion in submerged environments: chemical adhesion and suction adhesion. Remora’s hitchhiking behaviour uses suction adhesion and requires these fishes to be capable of both attaching and detaching regularly, but their detachment remains poorly understood.

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