Israeli team designs prosthetic fin to save turtle

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 17, 2014 at 3:32 pm •  Published: May 17, 2014

MICHMORET, Israel (AP) — A badly injured sea turtle's prospects are looking up — thanks to a new prosthetic fin designed by an Israeli team and modeled after the wings of a U.S. fighter jet.

The green sea turtle, named "Hofesh," the Hebrew word for "freedom," was caught in a fishing net off Israel's Mediterranean coast in early 2009. With his two left flippers badly wounded, rescuers had to amputate, leaving him with a pair of stumps that made it difficult to swim.

Yaniv Levy, director of Israel's Sea Turtle Rescue Center, said Hofesh was initially fitted with a diver's fin, but it provided little relief and he bumped into things as he tried to swim.

Shlomi Gez, an industrial design student at Jerusalem's Hadassah College, read about the animal on the Internet and wanted to help. He designed a prosthetic based on a fish's dorsal fin. The contraption provided some improvement, but Hofesh still had trouble breathing and rising to the surface.

Then, inspired by the design of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-22 Raptor warplane, Gez designed a new prosthetic with two fins. The device, somewhat resembling the aircraft's wings, was strapped onto Hofesh's back on Thursday, allowing him to move easily around his tank.

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