Every animal count, especially those that are endangered, like the loggerhead sea turtles.
Akut-3, a 100-lb. looggerhead sea turtle was found floating in the water in July, 2014. He was injured by the propellor of a passing boat. He suffered a fractured jaw with almost 60 percent of the upper and lower jaw on the right side of his face actually missing. It’s amazing he was still alive.
Lucky for this guy, he found his way to the Dekamer Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on the coast of Turkey. The sea turtle is the first of its kind to receive a 3D-printed prosthetic jaw. He was transformed into Robo-sea turtle.
The only hope for Akut-3 — named for the rescue agency that found him, AKUT Arama Kurtarma Derneği — was facial reconstruction. The center reached out to medical 3D printing company BTech, which has been developing implants and prosthetics.
The next step was to reconstruct his beak, with the help of surgeons and veterinarians, using Materialise’s 3-matic software, creating a prosthetic that would be able to seamlessly replace the part of Atuk-3’s face sheared off by the propeller.
Twenty years ago, this surely would have been a science-fiction fantasy, and today the procedure and result is s high-tech, it’s hard to believe. Once he is healed, Akut-3 will be returned to the sea, joining the 47 turtles successfully treated by the Dekamer Center since it opened in 2009.
Of course, World Turtle Day was May 23.