A sea-turtle that lost two of its fins to injury is getting a new lease on life courtesy of a prosthetic fin created by Israeli researchers that takes its inspiration from the fighter jet's wings.
The turtle dubbed "Hofesh," "freedom" in Hebrew, became entangled in a fisherman's net in the Mediterranean off Israel's coast in 2009.
Both of its flippers on its left side were so badly injured they had to be amputated, leaving the green sea turtle with stumps that caused problems in swimming.
Attempts to fit him with a diver's fin were unsuccessful, says Yaniv Levy, head of the Sea Turtle Rescue Center in Michmoret, Israel.
It offered little help and caused the turtle to bump into obstacles during swimming attempts at the center's tank where he was being kept, Levy said.
A story about Hofesh on the Internet then attracted the attention of industrial design undergraduate Shlomi Gez, attending Hadassah College in Jerusalem, who decided he wanted to try to help.
His first design for a prosthetic fin, patterned on the dorsal fin of a fish, provided some help but left Hofesh with problems when trying to rise to the surface to breathe.
For inspirations, Gez then turned to the F-22 fighter jet built by Lockheed Martin Corp., designing a second prosthetic that featured a pair of fins roughly resembling the jet's wings.
"I discovered it worked better than one fin on the back," Gez says.
"With two fins, [Hofesh] keeps relatively balanced, even above the water."
The prosthetic helps the green sea turtle move more easily in the tank where he is living, although there's no chance of him being able to be returned to the ocean, Levy said.
Still, he has company in his tank, a female named Tsurit.
Although Tsurit is blind, there are hopes the two will mate and add to the endangered species' local population, Levy said.
Both Hofesh and Tsurit are thought to be around 20 to 25 years old and near the age of sexual maturity.
"We have great plans for this guy," Levy said of Hofesh.
"They will never go back to the wild but their offspring will be released the minute they hatch and go immediately into the sea and live normally in the wild," he added.