What is Yu-chan Project ?
On June 25th 2008, a female loggerhead turtle was captured in a pound net along the coast of the Kii Channel, which is between Kii penisula and Shikoku Isand. The turtle suffered massive injuries in her both fore flippers. She lost half of left fore flipper and one third of right fore flipper. Most probably she was bitten by a shark. After medical
treatment, she was moved into a lagoon pond located a corner of landfill for the Kobe Airport, in which three other sea turtles incidentally captured and rescued near the area were also kept until fall. Researchers of the Sea Turtle Association of Japan (STAJ) keep sea turtles found near the area in the lagoon because former researches indicated that sea turtles released with satellite transmitters on their back never leave the area
until the water temperatures decreased to 20 degree and that high mortality of sea turtles in the busy area. In the end of last fall, researchers of STAJ hesitated to release the poor turtle named ‘’Yu’’ because she cannot swim well. Her swimming speed was less than 60% of other three turtles. Many people disagreed to be cruel to the handicapped turtle. After all, STAJ decided not to release her. Then, with veterinarians, a prosthetic company, subsea robotics researchers, and bio-logging researchers, STAJ launched a project to develop artificial flippers for her.
First project meeting was held on March 2nd in Kawamura Gishi Co. (a prosthetic company). There project members reviewed and discussed about current status of Yu, designs of artificial flippers, problems on research and developing the flippers.
On April 4-5th, project members visited the Hiwasa Chelonian Museum, which kept Yu during winter season. Three staffs from the prosthetic company conducted prosthetic casting so that joint part of the artificial flippers would just fit to the wounded flippers and bond well. Some other members took footages of swimming locomotion for healthy turtles so that they can analyze and simulate strength of the material for the flippers. The other members examined gonad of Yu using an endoscope and found that she was female.
Project latest information
On July 25th,
The second model was applied to Yu.
On July 17th,
Revive Sea Turlte Strategy Council (a public lectures and discussion meeting on sea turtles) is now held in Kobe. Project members are supposed to explain what has been going on and ideas on how to proceed from here.
On June 20th,
The first model was applied to Yu.
On June 9th,
The first model of artificial flippers were completed in Kawamura Gishi Co.
On May 31th,
Yu was moved back to the lagoon in Kobe airport. At that time, researchers attached dataloggers to analyze her swimming behavior and abilities.