Sunday, 17 February 2013

Giant sea turtle gets prosthetic flippers

Staff at Suma Aqualife Park in Japan have designed special rubber fins for a loggerhead turtle who had her flippers ripped off in a shark attack.

Yu, an approximately 25-year-old female loggerhead turtle, test-drives her 27th pair of artificial front flippers around her home aquarium near Kobe in western Japan, where she proves a draw for the crowds.

The rubber limbs are attached to a vest slipped over her head, according to the aquarium's curator, Naoki Kamezaki.

The creature, which weighs 15 stone (96kg) and has a shell 32 inches (82cm) long, was pulled out of a fisherman's net and sent to the Suma Aqualife Park in mid-2008.

One third of the right limb and half of the left limb were gone, in what Kamezaki believes must have been a shark attack.

The aquarium started developing artificial limbs for the animal in late 2008 as it could swim only at about 60 per cent of its normal speed.

Earlier versions were squeezed into the stumps but were apparently painful to Yu.

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