She was severely injured, having lost both her front limbs. But an intrepid group of researchers at the University of Tokyo, led by Katsufumi Sato, one of National Geographicâ€™s 2009 emerging explorers, has developed a pair of prosthetic limbs for Yu to help her swim better. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.)
Now 25, Yu was recently fitted with her 27th pair of prosthetic flippers at her home, the Suma Aqualife Park in Kobe, Japan.
The molded plastic limbs are attached to a jacket that fits over Yuâ€™s shell. The stubs of her existing front limbs are inserted into the prosthetics so that Yu can swim using the same motions and muscles that she did before her attack.
Karin Hayashi,Â one of the scientists who helped build the prosthetics and who just completed her masterâ€™s degree at the University of Tokyo, sat down with National Geographic to share more about how she built the turtleâ€™s artificial limbs and whatâ€™s next for Yu.