Did you know that approximately just one in 1,000 to 10,000 sea turtles will survive long enough to reach adulthood? Unfortunately, that’s the reality. Sea turtles are not only threatened by natural obstacles but also by fishers who accidentally capture them. Today, sea turtles are considered endangered in the U.S., with the exception of the loggerhead sea turtle that’s regarded as threatened.
Goody, the olive ridley sea turtle, was one victim who was threatened one day by a local fisher when she found herself trapped in fishing equipment. During the frightening incident, she ended up getting free and becoming part of the 10% of sea turtles that survive after being trapped in a net, but she lost one of her flippers in the process.
Luckily for Goody, she was taken to Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok to get a special prosthetic flipper made for her.
Shortly after having the artificial limb in place, Goody was having difficulty adjusting as expected. It was like learning how to walk for the very first time. However, the team was confident that the sea turtle would eventually adapt to using her new limb and be able to independently swim around much easier than she would if she still only had three flippers.
Today, the turtle is doing awesome. She’s learning to swim again, and she no longer appears distressed following her traumatic experience with the local fisher. It’s almost as if she’s good as new!
Nantarika Chansue, one of the vets on the team, said, “She’s swimming much better and learning to use the two flippers to turn. You can see the difference. We are trying to develop one of the best turtle prosthetic flippers ever created.”
Goody may be doing well, but the team of vets can all agree that the turtle may never be able to be released back into the ocean given her physical state. Nonetheless, they deem it important to continue helping other injured sea turtles like Goody by providing prosthetic devices that are custom-made to the turtle’s injury, their size and weight, and their quality of swimming. Apart from Goody, the program has helped ten other sea turtles so far.
“It’s just like when we have our babies, you’re like a proud parent,” Chansue admitted.
Watch Goody swim with her new flipper below. It’s amazing that devices like this can completely alter an animal’s life for the better and give them a new lease on life!