Turtle fitted with prosthetic flippers in Japan

Turtle fitted with prosthetic flippers in Japan

Turtle fitted with prosthetic flippers in Japan

Updated 13 February 2013, 7:26 AEST

A turtle who lost her front limbs in a shark attack has been fitted with prosthetic flippers at a Japanese aquarium.

A sea turtle who lost her front limbs in an apparent shark attack has returned to the water after being fitted with two prosthetic flippers at an aquarium near Kobe in Japan.

Yu, an endangered loggerhead turtle, has been living at Suma Aqualife Park since 2008 when she was saved from a fisherman's net with half of her left flipper and one third of her right flipper missing.

The aquarium's curator, Naoki Kamezaki, says Yu's new limbs are more comfortable than older versions as they are connected to a vest that fits over her head.

"We have worked hard to design the vest in a way that prevents the turtle from taking it off unwittingly," Mr Kamezaki said.

"It can flutter the limbs as the vest is soft."

The 96 kilogram turtle, with an 82 centimetre long shell, is on to her 27th pair of prosthetics.

Suma Aqualife Park has been developing flippers for Yu since she arrived in 2008 as she was only able to swim at about 60 per cent normal speed.

Previous pairs seemed to be painful for the animal as they had to be squeezed onto what remained of her injured flippers.

Mr Kamezaki believes Yu may be the only turtle in the world to have been successfully fitted with artificial limbs.

"Similar attempts have been made to attach artificial limbs to turtles around the world. But we have not heard if they went well," he said.

AFP