Underwater view of the sea surface

Students move another step forward in designing permanent solution for Seemore

MINNEAPOLIS (07/07/2017) — University of Minnesota students designing a 3D-printed exoshell for an injured sea turtle at SEA LIFE Aquarium at the Mall of America released a video of the CT scans that will help them create a permanent solution for the sea turtle’s condition known as “Bubble Butt Syndrome.”

The sea turtle, named Seemore, was hit by a boat off the coast of Florida in 2009, which damaged her shell. That damage left her unable to swim and dive properly as gas gets trapped in the shell and makes her bottom float on top of the water.

To help Seemore swim, SEA LIFE currently attaches weights to her shell’s scutes (the outer layers of the shell). The weights improve her buoyancy and allow her to swim more easily, but they fall off when her scutes shed. The animal care team is forced to take her out of her exhibit to replace them, causing undue stress on Seemore. This is not a sustainable solution.

The CT Scan will provide shell dimensions that engineering students from the University of Minnesota Institute for Engineering in Medicine’s 3D Printing Core will use to create a 3D model for Seemore’s new exoshell that will likely be attached to her current shell. The exoshell will give the Aquarium a better attachment surface for the weights which can stay on permanently rather than being attached directly to the shell. 

Seemore is from the SEA LIFE Aquarium at Mall of America. She is a Green Sea Turtle; the second largest species of sea turtle, and currently weighs about 100 pounds. SEA LIFE provides permanent homes for damaged and disabled creatures like Seemore that have been rescued and need a home. SEA LIFE Aquarium got her in 2011 from the Sea Turtle Hospital in Marathon Key Florida after they deemed her un-releasable.

Seemore received the CT scan at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Hospital on June 16, 2017.

Contact:

Rhonda Zurn, College of Science and Engineering, rzurn@umn.edu, 612-626-7959

Lacey Nygard, University News Service, ljnygard@umn.edu, 612-625-0552