3D technology that gave the turtle a unique shell, now used to check its progress
The turtle is considered one of a kind and will live its days at the birch aquarium due to issues with its posterior fins.
SAN DIEGO –
A turtle that lives in San Diego is believed to be the only one of its kind in the world, with a shell imprinted with three-dimensional technology.
That was about five years ago.
Now, similar 3D technology is used to scan the loggerhead. She went from 90 to 200 pounds, but she still has the same 3D printed corset that goes over her shell.
Aquarist Kaelie Spencer pointed out the sea-safe epoxy that is now covered in algae, which is really the only way to know this turtle has a printed shell.
She also showed News 8 what the turtle’s fins should look like, but instead her hind fins are tucked under her and she can’t move them. That’s why she will live at the Birch Aquarium for the rest of her life – maybe another 75 years.
“She doesn’t have the muscle strength to go out into the wild without those posterior fins,” Spencer said.
The turtle was rescued from a power station in New Jersey where it was discovered to be suffering from scoliosis. His spine forced his shell to grow into his reproductive organs, so they replaced the lump known as the scale.
They carefully took the special turtle out of the water for its scan. Thanks to the naturalists who helped guide her through a basket, they were then able to see how she was doing in a way that had never been done at Birch Aquarium before. This is done using a structured 3D scan in blue light by the Digital Media Lab of the Geisel Library at UC San Diego in collaboration with the UCLA Library.
“What’s great about this technology is that it allows us to map how much it’s growing and how much that scale might change,” Spencer said.
The scan is fast, it’s harmless, and they covered her eyes to keep her calm.
“She often hides her head. You can see her whole body, but if she hides her head, she’ll think, “you can’t see me.” Like a kid playing hide and seek, ”Spencer said.
But on the scan, they can see it – all the furrows and curves that make it unique. And they were able to put her back in the water in about 20 to 30 minutes, which is much faster than taking her to another facility for a scan.
The latest scan is superimposed on his scanner from a few years ago to check for growth and changes. What they found is that the turtle is not yet growing out of its splint, which in this case is a good thing. The prosthesis still holds.
“We didn’t really know that. This is the first time this has been done, so we were very pleasantly surprised to see how much it stayed in place and how much it helped her,” Spencer said. .
3D scans have been used on other marine species like coral, shark jaws, egg sacks, birds, and they also use it on starfish and sea urchins; complex and fragile creatures can still be studied and their images can be saved and shared in digital form.
“The 3D technology is mind blowing,” said Spencer. “The possibilities are truly endless.”
And they have proven to be lifesaving for a one-of-a-kind turtle whose life began with many challenges.
“It’s wonderful that we were able to provide her with a home forever and a better quality of life for her by doing cutting-edge science,” said Spencer.
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