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In this paper, we analyze underwater energy harvesting from the flutter instability of a heavy flag hosting an ionic polymer metal composite (IPMC). The heavy flag comprises a highly compliant membrane with periodic metal reinforcements to maximize the weight and minimize the bending stiffness, thus promoting flutter at moderately low flow speed. The IPMC is mechanically attached to the host flag and connected to an external load. The entire structure is immersed in a mean flow whose intensity is parametrically varied to explore the onset of flutter instability along with the relation between the vibration frequency and the mean flow speed. Manageable theoretical models for fluid-structure interaction and IPMC response are presented to inform the harvester design and interpret experimental data. Further, optimal parameters for energy scavenging maximization, including resistive load and flow conditions, are identified.