With help from his friends, Freedom swims again

A 20-year-old handicapped sea turtle called Hofesh — the Hebrew word for freedom — has been given a new lease on life.

Freedom the turtle photo/courtesy israel21c

The rare green turtle washed ashore four years ago along the Israeli coast. With two severely damaged flippers on his left side, he was taken to the Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Michmoret.

Hofesh’s damaged flippers were amputated, but when he tried to swim he would flail and sink, gasping for breath. Caretakers were stymied. Sea turtles can live for up to 80 years but this one was at risk of drowning any time.

Israeli industrial design student Shlomi Gez came up with a solution: an artificial flipper to help him stay balanced when swimming. Gez said he designed the stabilizing device based on the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor jet.

Hofesh is now able to swim. However, he can never be released into the wild. The flipper is attached with biological glue that will grow with him, but if it were to fall off, the turtle would certainly drown.

Hofesh will live at the center’s turtle conservation program.  — israel21c