Due to a collapsed lung, OD has weights on his shell to help him swim underwater — Photo courtesy of Darrin Bush/Las Vegas News BureauThere’s a new inhabitant at Shark Reef Aquarium inside Mandalay Bay–and he’s making quite the splash.
On Oct. 7, the popular Las Vegas attraction introduced the newest resident to its 1.3-million gallon shipwreck exhibit: OD the sea turtle. Estimated to be 50 years old, the 320-pound rescued sea turtle was initially discovered in 1999 with a lung infection near Atlantic Beach, N.C. Following his recovery, he was tagged and released back into the ocean. Unfortunately, in 2008 he was found floating in the Florida Keys with a collapsed lung. Although he was treated at the nearby Turtle Hospital, because of his condition, OD (named after the Ocean Divers boat that rescued him) couldn’t be re-released and needed a permanent home.
“Due to our location, we don’t often get the opportunity to step in and provide a home for animals in need,” said Adrienne Rowland, director of Shark Reef Aquarium. “But once we were able to establish what OD’s overall needs were, we decided we were a good fit.”
A lot of factors went into deciding whether or not OD would be a “success” at Shark Reef, including whether or not the aquarium had the appropriate facilities and its staff was equipped with the right knowledge to take care of him.
"A turtle’s lungs are located near the top of their shell, so because of OD’s collapsed lung, he overinflates his other lung and can’t dive well,” Rowland explained. “Led weights were added to his shell to help counterbalance [the overinflated lung] so he can dive again. We need to manage those weights, as pieces can shed off, which is a major reason he can’t go back into the wild.”
OD joins two other green sea turtles in the exhibit as well as 22 other species, including sharks, rays and fish. So far, he’s “doing great.”