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Sea turtle is swimming again with Thailand's first prosthetic flipper

Goody the sea turtle lost her left flipper years ago after she got stuck in a fishing net. She was left immobile — until a team of researchers in Thailand fitted her with the country's first prosthetic flipper. 

The olive ridley sea turtle was helped by Thai environment authorities and a group at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University that has spent the past year developing prostheses for sea turtles, according to Reuters news agency. While this is the first prosthetic flipper in Thailand, other countries have helped sea turtles get their own similar flippers. In 2014, Israel gave a badly injured green sea turtle a new flipper modeled after the wings of a fighter jet

Female turtle named Goody tests out the first prosthetic flipper that will help other sea turtles injured from fishing gears to swim again, in Phuket
A sea turtle named Goody tests out a prosthetic flipper that will also help other sea turtles injured by fishing gear to swim again, in Phuket, Thailand, January 10, 2020. JIRAPORN KUHAKAN / REUTERS

After Goody's injury, she was moved into captivity with other injured turtles. She was having trouble swimming with her right flipper, but Nantarika Chansue, a veterinarian who helped create Goody's new flipper, told Reuters the prosthetic has helped. "You can see the difference," she said.

"She's swimming much better and she's learning to use the two flippers to turn," Chansue said. "She knows that she can turn right by using that flipper."

  Olive ridley turtles are a threatened species. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, fishing gear is a significant hazard as the animals often get caught in nets, lines, trawls and other equipment. Ocean pollution, boat propellers, and people killing adult turtles and harvesting their eggs are also threats to the species. 

Reuters reported that there are 10 other turtles with similar injuries that may benefit from the university's research. 

Goody's new limb will not allow her to go back to the sea, but Chansue said it will improve her quality of life as she remains in captivity. 

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

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