Maharashtra vet invents prosthetic ‘Dahanu Flipper’ for Olive Ridley turtles

Maharashtra vet invents prosthetic ‘Dahanu Flipper’ for Olive Ridley turtles

Amputated Olive Ridley turtles will turn into veritable ‘blade swimmers’ with a first-of-its-kind prototype fiberglass flipper invented by a veterinarian at Dahanu, 135km north of Mumbai.

Two of the three amputated turtles have been non-surgically fitted with the prosthetic flippers on a trial basis at the Wildlife Conservation and Animal Welfare Association (WCAWA) at Dahanu, which works under the state forest department.

Endangered Olive Ridley turtles often get trapped in fishing nets and in the process of disentangling themselves their front flippers get cut, said Dr Dinesh Vihnerkar, who invented the prosthetic limbs.

“An injured Olive Ridley turtle can survive on three flippers. The turtle swimming pivots on the front two flippers. If they get amputated, the turtle can neither swim nor walk,” he said.

“Just like the Jaipur Foot for human stumps, we have also invented the “Dahanu Flipper” for turtles. We have named it ‘Dahanu Flipper’ as it was developed here,” said Dr Vihnerkar, who offers his services for free at the rescue centre.

It took the doctor two months to invent the fiberglass flipper.

Depending on the response from the two turtles, the flipper will be improvised and used for a third turtle, said Dhawal Kansara, who runs the WCAWA centre.

We have already provided the prototype to the forest department and are expecting a favourable reply so that we could use it for other turtles, said Kansara.

Nanasaheb Ladkat, deputy conservator of forest, Dahanu, has appreciated the work.

“We will issue a certificate of appreciation to WCAWA and to Dr Vihnerkar for their efforts in rescuing the turtles,” the official said.