Ali, an endangered green sea turtle, is finally getting the chance to swim underwater for the first time in 11 years thanks to advances in diving equipment. Eleven years ago, Ali was struck by a boat causing an air bubble to form under her shell. Though Ali has recovered completely since the accident, the air bubble remains trapped under her shell and prevents her from completely submerging underwater.
According to an article in Daily Mail UK, after hearing of Ali’s plight, researchers at Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park began developing a dive belt designed for sea creatures. According to Fiona Smith, a curator at the Sea Life Park, “The common thing to do is to stick weights to injured turtles’ shells to allow them to dive… Ali’s shell was in slightly worse condition because of her accident [so] it wasn’t that easy.” To solve the problem, the team brought the case to a nearby dive shop that then developed a unique design for Ali. They created a belt that operates in the same way as a human dive belt and comes with 2.5lbs of removable lead. The lead allows Ali to stay underwater, but is still light enough that she can surface when she chooses.
After a period of acclimating to the new harness, Ali managed to dive for the first time since her accident. While the dive belt is still experimental, the team hopes the “new invention will improve her quality of life. If the belt is successful it could pave the way for the other turtles.”
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