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Wednesday, 13th February 2013
In General Japan News,

Japanese turtle gets new artificial limbs

A new device which has prosthetic limbs attached to it is being road tested on a sea turtle in Japan after the reptile lost its limbs in a suspected shark attack.

The reptile, known as Yu, is 25 years old and has had prosthetic limbs attached to her to help her swim since 2008, when she was rescued by a fisherman and sent to Suma Aqualife Park.

It is hoped that this latest design, which sees the rubber limbs attached to a vest that is pulled over her head, will be more comfortable than previous incarnations.

In an interview with AFP, Naoki Kamezaki, curator of the aquarium where Yu lives, said: "We have worked hard to design the vest in a way that prevents the turtle from taking it off unwittingly. It can flutter the limbs as the vest is soft."

Yu is a loggerhead turtle and this breed has been in the news recently after it was announced that conservationists in Japan are attempting to improve the creatures' chances of survival in the wild.

The Japanese government is working in conjunction with employees of the Kamogawa Sea World in Chiba to collect turtle eggs laid in the wild and rebury them in a man-made beach in the park, Wired.com reported. 

Before reburying them, conservationists will attach sensors to the eggs which can decipher the temperature underground and detect movement to see when they may be beginning to hatch.

If the scientists have a better, more accurate understanding of when the turtles will emerge, they can then help the reptiles get to the sea where they have a better chance of survival.

By monitoring the temperature of the sand, the conservationists can see if eggs which are laid when the weather is colder will still make it. If they deem the conditions to be a detrimental factor in the turtles' survival, they can move them to a warmer area.

Written by Graham McPherson