May 2, 2017 | By Tess

Sally, a Loggerhead turtle that was found off Ireland’s Atlantic coast with a missing flipper caused by a shark bite, could soon be swimming again thanks to the dedication of a team from the Dingle Ocean World Aquarium (and 3D printing technology). The team, led by Kevin Flannery, plans to 3D print a titanium and polymer flipper prosthetic for the disabled turtle.

Sally is believed to have drifted through the Atlantic ocean for months with a missing eye and a flipper after being attacked by a shark. But following such a misfortune, the loggerhead turtle finally found some luck in the river Barrow, the second longest river in Ireland. There, Jonathan Lynch and his family from Fenit found the large turtle in the river’s shallows, believing she was trying to warm herself up there.

A long way from home (as loggerhead turtles are more accustomed to the warmer waters of say, Miami or the Canary Islands), Sally was brought by the Lynch family to the Ocean World Aquarium in Dingle, Ireland. Under the care of marine expert Kevin Flannery, Sally is now being treated for her wounds in a highly innovative way.

Sally the loggerhead turtle with Kevin Flannery and Lynch family

(Image: The Kerryman)

Dingle Ocean World is reportedly working closely with a Cork-based medical tech company called Stryker to design and manufacture a 3D printed prosthetic flipper that will hopefully enable the injured turtle to swim again.

The prosthetic will be implanted if the device is approved by a team of veterinary professionals.

"It's great news for Sally now; after all, she's been through with the Stryker company answering our call this week to say they think they can create a polymer/titanium flipper for her pending the outcome of a veterinary assessment," Flannery explained to local press.

While we’ll have to see whether Sally makes it back into the ocean with a custom-made 3D printed flipper prosthetic, we have no doubt that the Dingle Ocean World team will do its best to rehabilitate the hardy turtle.

Amazingly, this is not the first time that 3D printing has been used to help sea turtles, most species of which are in danger of extinction. We have been following one particular effort closely, which has involved 3D printing sea turtle eggs that are embedded with trackers. The innovative project, led by nonprofit organization Paso Pacifico, is hoping to deter poachers who notoriously steal and sell sea turtle eggs on the black market.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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