SAN DIEGO—An injured sea turtle found in the cooling canal of a New Jersey power plant in 2013 is growing and thriving at a California aquarium thanks to 3D printing.
Staff at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego collaborated with the digital media laboratory at the university's Geisel Library to design, build and attach a 3D printed brace that fills a gap in the bottom right part of the loggerhead sea turtle's shell.
The brace, combined with a neoprene weight pocket, is expected to let her grow and thrive in the protected environment of the aquarium.
When the young turtle was rescued, she had a gap in her shell that was only part of her problems. She also had an abnormal curvature of her spine and paralyzed rear flippers.
Initial recovery efforts occurred at the nonprofit Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, N.J., and then at the sea turtle care center at the nonprofit South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, S.C.
The South Carolina facility sought a permanent home for the turtle and reached out to institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Birch Aquarium offered its services, secured necessary approvals from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service and conducted a campaign that raised more than $50,000 to support the first year's housing and rehabilitative care for the turtle.