Friday, February 22, 2013

Turtle Tale

     The world below the surface is dangerous to all. A world where prey is predator and predator is prey.  If you can be swallowed your a meal. If you can swallow your a predator. Sharks are at the top of this oceanic food chain. Turtles are majestic predators, but not majestic enough to elude a top predator such as a shark.
     Five years ago, off the coast of Japan, a group of fishermen found Yu, a loggerhead sea turtle. Yu was badly missing his two front limbs. It was assumed he was attacked by sharks, but because of his strong shell, they couldn't eat anything other than the limbs. Without her front limb, Yu had trouble swimming. If she were to be released back to the ocean, it would be a matter of days before death. But there was hope for Yu.
    An intrepid group of researchers at the University of Tokyo, led by Katsufumi Sato, an emerging explorer, had developed a pair of prothetic limbs for Yu to help her swim. Now, at the age of 25, Yu was recently fitted with her 27 pair of prothetic limbs at her home, the Suma Aqualife Park in Kobe, Japan.
    The molded plastic limbs are attached to a jacket over Yu's shell. The remaining stub of Yu's limbs are inserted into prosthetics so that Yu can maneuver with them. Yu can use the same muscle movements as before her attack.
    As of today they are working on a way to remove the jacket and find a different way to keep the fins attached because the jacket slows her down. For now, Yu is doing just fine and is still the turtle test of the century. Lucky Yu can now swim and is doing so in her home. This time without sharks.


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