Injured sea turtle's shell gap filled with 3D-printed brace

By Ben Hooper Contact the Author   |  Dec. 11, 2017 at 1:44 PM
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Dec. 11 (UPI) -- An injured loggerhead sea turtle with a gap in her shell was fitted with a 3D-printed brace by a team of California researchers.

The Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, said the female turtle was rescued from a New Jersey power plant and brought to the aquarium, where researchers noticed she was suffering multiple physical maladies, including abnormal spine curvature and a gap in her shell.

The researchers said they teamed with the UC San Diego's Digital Media Lab and Thornton Hospital to take scans of the turtle and fit her with a 3D printed brace to fill the shell gap, which researchers said could have led to gastrointestinal and urogenital complications in the turtle, which is still growing.

"We teamed up with the Digital Media Lab at Geisel Library to create a brace that will prevent the shell from curving further downward and will promote more normal growth," said Jenn Nero Moffatt, senior director of animal care, science and conservation for the aquarium. "It's our goal to prevent further complications and keep her as healthy and happy as possible."

The researchers said the turtle will likely need to be fitted with a larger brace as she continues to grow.

"This is truly an ocean rehabilitation success story," Moffatt said.

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