Technology & Science

Endangered turtle swims again with prosthetic flipper

Goody, an endangered olive ridley sea turtle, can swim with ease again, after receiving the first prosthetic flipper developed in Thailand.

Injured turtles with prostheses can't be released into wild, but have better quality of life

Endangered turtle injured by fishing gear swims again. 0:43

Thai turtle Goody lost her left flipper years ago after she was entangled in a fishing net, leaving her immobile and stressed out in captivity.

But now the endangered olive ridley sea turtle can swim with ease again, after receiving Thailand's first prosthetic flipper last week.

"She's swimming much better and she's learning to use the two flippers to turn. You can see the difference," said Nantarika Chansue, a veterinarian who took part in the development of Goody's prosthetic flipper.

Over the past year, Thai environment authorities and researchers at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok have been working to develop prostheses for injured sea turtles, following similar projects in Japan and the United States.

10 other turtles could benefit

Sea turtles are often injured or killed by human activities, most commonly by ingesting plastic or getting caught in fishing nets or lines, which can stop blood circulation to the limbs.

Goody previously could swim only with difficulty using her one right flipper, while living in a confined space with other injured turtles. Another 10 Thai turtles have similar injuries that could benefit from the project.

While the prostheses won't help injured turtles become fit enough to return to the sea, they're aimed at improving their quality of life in captivity, Nantarika said.

"We are trying to develop some of the best ones ever created in the world."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.