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Monday, January 13, 2020, 15:50
Thailand helps sea turtle swim again with prosthetic flippers
By Reuters
Monday, January 13, 2020, 15:50 By Reuters

Nantarika Chansue, a veterinarian in charge of Chulalongkorn hospital's aquatic research centre handles a sea turtle at the Veterinary Medical Aquatic Animal Research Center in Bangkok on March 13, 2017. (ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)

PHUKET, Thailand - Thai turtle Goody lost her left flipper years ago after she was entangled in a fishing net, leaving her immobile and stressed out in captivity.

But now Goody, an endangered olive ridley sea turtle, can swim with ease again, after receiving Thailand's first prosthetic flipper last week.

She's swimming much better and she's learning to use the two flippers to turn. You can see the difference

Nantarika Chansue, a veterinarian

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"She's swimming much better and she's learning to use the two flippers to turn. You can see the difference," said Nantarika Chansue, a veterinarian who took part in the development of Goody's prosthetic flipper.

Over the past year, Thai environment authorities and researchers at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok have been working to develop prostheses for injured sea turtles, following similar projects in Japan and the United States.

Sea turtles are often injured or killed by human activities, most commonly by ingesting plastic or getting caught in fishing nets or lines, which can stop blood circulating to their limbs.

Previously, Goody was able to swim only with difficulty using her one right flipper, while living in a confined space with other injured turtles. Another 10 Thai turtles have similar injuries that could benefit from the project.

READ MORE: Nest of endangered giant softshell turtle found in Cambodia

While the prostheses won't help injured turtles become fit enough to return to the sea, they are aimed at improving their quality of life in captivity, Nantarika said.

"We are trying to develop some of the best ones ever created in the world," Nantarika said.

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