Loggerhead Gets Artificial Flippers

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Loggerhead Gets Artificial Flippers

Sun, 17/02/2013 - 05:03
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Meet Yu, a 200-pound female turtle who was found badly injured in 2008, her front flippers torn off in what appeared to have been a shark attack.

Luckily, a kind-hearted fisherman found her shortly after the attack and brought her to Suma Aqualife Park near Kobe, Japan where she has now been fitted with a new set of artificial limbs, reports the BBC

Yu in her aquarium home in Japan

Twenty-five previous “fittings” were made for Yu that all proved too painful or left her slightly immobile. The new fittings, rubber flippers attached to a neoprene vest that slips over the turtle’s head, are apparently a perfect fit and allow her to move more naturally and without irritation.

“We have worked hard to design the vest in a way that prevents the turtle from taking it off unwittingly,” said Naoki Kamezaki, the aquarium’s curator. “Similar attempts have been made to attach artificial limbs to turtles around the world. Ours may be the only case in which a turtle with artificial limbs is still swimming without a problem.”

Loggerhead turtles are remarkable travellers, often swimming thousands of miles across the open ocean and back home again. But they are listed as an endangered species and conservationists worry about the continued threats of fishing nets, warming ocean currents and natural predators, such as sharks.

Yu is thriving in her new home at the aquarium where she’s become a major tourist attraction. The aquarium says they believe she is about 25 years old and could live to be 50 or more. Let’s hope her new “legs” keep her going as long as possible.