Mechanical properties of harbor seal skin and blubber a test of anisotropy

Journal Article

Title: Mechanical properties of harbor seal skin and blubber a test of anisotropy
Publication Date:
February 01, 2018
Journal: Zoology
Volume: 126
Pages: 137-144
Publisher: Elsevier
Technology Type:

Document Access

Website: External Link

Citation

Grear, M.; Motley, M.; Crofts, S.; Witts, A.; Summers, A.; Ditsche, P. (2018). Mechanical properties of harbor seal skin and blubber a test of anisotropy. Zoology, 126, 137-144.
Abstract: 

The skin and blubber of marine mammals provides protection from the surrounding environment, whether that be temperature, microbes, or direct mechanical impacts. To understand the ability of harbor seals’ (Phoca vi-tulina) skin and blubber to resist blunt force trauma, we tested the material properties of these tissues. We quantified two mechanical properties of the tissue: tensile strength and tensile stiffness, at two test speeds, three sample orientations, and two age groups. We found significant differences in material properties between test speeds, orientation, and age of the animal, but did not find a large difference with orientation. From this ana-lysis, we conclude that harbor seal skin and blubber should be modeled as an isotropic non-linear elastic material with strain rate dependence. Moreover, we were interested in the effects of freezing on the biomechanical properties. The material was tested fresh and after being frozen for four months. Frozen data revealed an in-crease in stiffness and strength for the skin (epidermis and dermis), but did not show a conclusive trend in the blubber material properties. While the availability of frozen marine mammal tissue is greater than that of fresh material, frozen tissue of harbor seals, especially the skin, cannot serve as an accurate replacement for testing of fresh material.

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