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Costa Rican sea turtle to get prosthetic fins after shark attack

March 13, 2009

Scientists and collaborators at a local marina are looking for a way to save the life of one of Costa Rica´s most precious endangered species.

The Center of Caribbean Sea Turtle Rehabilitation is researching methods that would fit a prosthetic fin onto a six-year old hawksbill sea turtle.

The turtle arrived at the center two years ago with three missing fins – both rear fins and one front fin – after being attacked by a shark.

Gabriel Hobart works with the center´s owner for part of the year and said the facility has been working with a local dentist and a prosthetic center in San José to find the best way to create a new fin.

The difficulty, Hobart said, is that the turtle is still growing and will need a system that will allow scientists to change the fin for a bigger one as the turtle develops.

Although the turtle is missing three fins, Hobart said it is only necessary to replace one front fin to stabilize the animal and allow it to move properly.

The ultimate goal of the rehabilitation center is to release turtles back into the wild, but Hobart said this turtle will remain at the center forever because it doesn´t have the ability to survive in open waters.

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