Sea Turtle with 3D-Printed Shell Piece Continues to Thrive Years After Innovative Procedure

The sea creature first arrived at San Diego Birch Aquarium in 2014.

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A lucky Californian loggerhead sea-turtle was given a clean medical bill after a 3D printed brace shell.

The sea creature made its way to San Diego’s Birch Aquarium back in 2014. The turtle was discovered near a New Jersey power plant before moving to San Diego. SD Today reports that rescuers found the turtle to be underweight, at 98 lbs. She also had a hole in her shell which caused a curvature of its spine. The turtle’s health was not optimal by 2017, even under the care of the Aquarium. So, they worked with University of California San Diego’s Digitial Media Lab in order to design a 3D brace to repair the shell and nurse the turtle back to health.

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The outlet reported that after the 2023 physical examination, which included new measurements, cleaning the shell and taking a blood test, the aquarium concluded the turtle felt better than ever. The turtle has gained 210 pounds in weight and is sporting an enormous, healthy-looking shell.

Harry Helling (executive director at Birch Aquarium) told FOX 5 in a statement that the facility hopes the turtle’s journey will help visitors understand the importance of marine animals.

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Helling explained that many families are getting ready for an exciting summer of exploring as the warmer weather has finally arrived in San Diego. By bringing interactive feedings back and introducing new activities, the aquarium hopes that it can advance its mission to connect understanding to protecting our ocean-planet with fun and engaging activities.

Scott McAvoy a manager of the Digital Media Lab, described the procedure during a 2017 interview with KBPS. He explained that the shells were created by mirrored the good half and creating a perfect form-fitting, snap-in piece.

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If you want to see the sea turtle up close, the museum has extended its seasonal hours.

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Original article available on People.