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.