A Sea Turtle Gets His Wings

sea turtleWe love a good heartwarming marine life story here at Aquaviews, especially when it involves human empathy and kindness. We were especially touched by the efforts of Shlomi Gez, an Israeli design student that created a device that allowed a maimed sea turtle to recover normally after one of its flippers was lost from entanglement in a fisherman’s net.

Because a sea turtle’s flippers operate much like oars or ship rudders, the loss of even one flipper presents significant challenges to its survival. Without the ability to balance its propulsion, the disabled creature would thrash around wildly in the water, desperately trying to surface for air in the midst of what could only be described as a constant panic attack by those that observed him. That’s when Gez came up with a brilliant plant to restore normalcy to the reptile’s life.

Inspired by the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighter jet employed by the United States Air Force, Gez fashioned a pair of flippers that were affixed to the sea turtle’s back, enabling him to regain balance in lieu of his missing limb. The new flippers were constructed from biological material that will actually grow with the sea turtle so it will be able to live a full life with all its normal functions.

Dubbed Hofesh, the Hebrew word for ‘freedom’, the once-doomed sea turtle now resides in a rescue center with another turtle whose eyesight was permanently damaged in a boat collision. Although his injuries prevent Hofesh from ever being returned to the open ocean, his relatively young age of 20 (the average life span of a sea turtle is roughly 80 years) means that he may be a viable breeding source for the continued conservation of sea turtle species. Check out this fantastic footage of Hofesh in action with his high-tech new flippers.

Image via mashable.com

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