Fuji, the Bionic Dolphin With the Artificial Fin (video)

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Fuji the Bionic Dolphin

Fuji, the dolphin with the artificial tail, is still swimming strong more than six years after her prosthetic was first attached.

In the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, visitors still line up to see the world's first dolphin with an artificial fin. Fuji, now around 40 years old, lost much of her tail years ago to a necrotic disease. Around 75% of her fin had to be amputated. In 2004, Bridgestone, the largest manufacturer of tires in Japan, designed and built a replacement for Fuji made out of silicone, cushioned with foamed rubber, and reinforced with carbon fiber. The result was a life-like reproduction that was slightly smaller than the fin of a healthy adult, but still strong enough to let Fuji perform jumps and tricks in the Churaumi Dolphin Lagoon. Fuji's tail reportedly cost around 10 million yen, about $83,000 US. Not exactly Steve Austin levels of financing, but the results are still impressive.Watch the world's most famous bionic dolphin in the video below. You can see the fin very clearly starting at 0:15, and a trainer holds the tail out of the water around 1:00. You know prosthetics have come a long way when we can restore animals to their former glory. Enjoy the frolicking.

[screen capture and video credits: Diagonal UK]
[source: Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, ITN Source]

Discussion — 7 Responses

  • Joey1058 December 27, 2010 on 12:23 am

    Artificial legs for cats, and now artificial fins for dolphins. Very cool. 🙂

  • Gordon Freeman December 27, 2010 on 7:25 am

    Yeah, it’s cool. Artificial fin, we really make progress… I just hope we’ll advance enough to realize that these pools are too small for dolphins. (-:

    This seems a bit overpriced, but I assume that $83,000 include developing from scratch, so I hope next artificial fins (or other limbs, whatever) will not take that much money.

    It’s cool, thumbs up!

  • Hvacow1 December 28, 2010 on 6:59 pm

    I wonder if all of Fuji’s family was killed and eaten In Taiji where they most likely captured poor Fuji. All those happy people watching Fuji jump around in the small tank should travel south to Taiji, watch dophins get slaughtered, and the cove turn red with blood. Check out there smiles then.

  • Ivan Malaguski January 1, 2011 on 5:54 am

    Cool, good work Bridgestone…

  • Gabriel Alexander January 2, 2011 on 6:31 pm

    I want a fin 🙁

  • Julie January 11, 2011 on 7:35 pm

    I think it’s awesome- wonderful. Amazing science – great that people would care enough to spend that kind of money, and at the same time I’m struck by how ironic it is that they’d spend $83,000 to save 1 dolphin while thousands are slaughtered in Taiji, Japan, just a little further south. I hope people really do begin to see the beauty of dolphins (and all animals) and that their captivity is actually worth something. I can’t imagine swimming in circles all day – people say it’s to bring awareness, but I’m struck that people would laugh and smile and pay money to see these dolphins and not be outraged by Taiji.

  • Uma Uminchu January 18, 2011 on 4:46 pm

    it really cant be that expensive! maybe including the working hours of the ppl and the scientists of the hole company with other things while they were working on this project totals up to be this much..! but still am loving just the fact the dolphin can swim.. at least they taking care of this poor dolphin after catching it and making it work so the Japs can get money out of it.. bet they’ll be charging people more now to see the bionic dolphin! Also maybe the dolphin wouldnt have lost its fin if they hadnt caught it in the firt place!