Sea creature faced lifetime of going round in circles

A five-year-old green sea turtle named Alison that was attacked by a shark and left with only one flipper faced a lifetime of going around in circles. Given that sea turtles can live up to 150 years, this was a dizzying prospect for the young female.

But Allison was set on the straight and narrow yesterday, after biologists in Texas, USA, fitted her with a black neoprene suit complete with a carbon-fiber dorsal fin that allows her to glide gracefully with other turtles.

The fin on the suit, which resembles a wetsuit covering about three-quarters of her body, acts like a rudder and gives her stability. Allison can change direction by varying the strokes of her front right flipper.

Jeff George, of Sea Turtle Inc, a not-for-profit group that rehabilitates injured sea turtles, said that turtles with only one flipper are usually put down because otherwise they would struggle to reach the surface for air. Two-flipper turtles can be adopted by zoos and three-flipper turtles can be returned to the wild.

Allison, who arrived at the rescue center in 2005, was given a slim chance of survival, but she recovered and her rescuers started to look at ways of helping the perpetually circling sea creature. And now, even though Allison will never return to the sea, the achievement will make her an ‘ambassador’ for an endangered species, George said.