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article imageVideo: Japanese turtle Yu Chuan swims with prosthetic flippers

By JohnThomas Didymus     Feb 24, 2013 in Environment
Tokyo - Fishermen discovered a sea turtle off the coast of Japan in 2008. The turtle named Yu, had lost both front flippers, possibly to a shark attack. A group of researchers at the University of Tokyo designed prosthetic flippers to help her swim better.
National Geographic News reports Katsufumi Sato led the group of University of Tokyo researchers who designed the new limbs for the loggerhead sea turtle.
The molded plastic flippers were attached to a jacket that fits over Yu's body. The researchers inserted the stub of Yu's limbs into the prosthetic so she can use the muscles to operate the artificial flippers.
National Geographic News reports that Karin Hayashi, one of the scientists who helped to build the prosthetic, explained what led to the idea of creating prosthetic limbs for Yu the turtle:
Dr. Kamezaki, the head of the Sea Turtle Association of Japan, thought of releasing the injured turtle to the ocean at first. However, one [school]boy entreated Dr. Kamezaki to help the turtle because he was worried that the turtle could not survive another shark attack with the injured limbs. Being provoked by the boy’s passion to help the injured turtle, Dr. Kamezaki started the artificial-fins project that purposes to recover [her] swimming ability by attaching artificial fins, which have been developed by Kawamura Gishi Co., Ltd [a Japanese company that designs prosthetics].
The video shows Yu being fixed with a new pair of flippers and then testing them at the Suma Aqualife Park in Kobe, Japan.
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