Yu, a sea female-turtle at the aquarium near Kobe in western Japan, lost her front legs during a shark attack. Now, she is enjoying the latest in artificial flipper technology, as she got a new pair of artificial legs that were attached to her.
A pair of rubber limbs are attached to a vest that the turtle is wearing, said the aquarium’s curator, Naoki Kamezaki.
“We have worked hard to design the vest in a way that prevents the turtle from taking it off unwittingly,” he said. “It can flutter the limbs as the vest is soft.”
The turtle vas found in a fisherman’s net and sent to the Suma Aqualife Park at the middle of 2008. She weighs 96 kilograms and has a shell 82 centimetres long, the international press reports.
She lost one third of the right limb and half of the left limb, in what the aquarium’s officials think must have been a shark attack. As the animal could swim only at about 60 percent of its normal speed, the aquarium thought of making it a pair of new legs and started developing the limbs at the end of 2008.
The actual pair of limbs is the 27th one, as the earlier versions were squeezed into the stumps, but seemed to be painful to Yu.
“Similar attempts have been made to attach artificial limbs to turtles around the world. But we have not heard if they went well,” said Kamezaki, an expert on sea turtles, whose surname coincidentally means “turtle cape” in Japanese.