Courtesy of Darrin Bush/Las Vegas News Bureau
Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 | 11:23 a.m.
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OD, a 320-pound sea turtle recently rescued in the Florida Keys, made his debut this morning at the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay.
After a quarantine, Shark Reef scientists released the 50-year-old sea creature into the 1.3 million gallon Shipwreck Exhibit.
OD had suffered a near-fatal lung infection in 1999, when scientists discovered the turtle near Atlantic Beach, N.C. OD was tagged and released, but in 2008, OD again fell ill.
Boaters found OD floating near French Reef in the Florida Keys, where he landed at a Turtle Hospital with a collapsed lung. Then it was clear: OD couldn't survive on his own. He needed a permanent home.
OD found that home with the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, where caretakers were more than happy to take him. OD caught a July 25 ride with FedEx, flying from the Florida Keys all the way to Las Vegas.
That's where OD landed in a dedicated animal quarantine facility — a standard procedure when introducing an animal to a new habitat.
"OD's well-being came first," Jack Jewell, the Shark Reef's general curator, said in a statement. "The quarantine process ensured that he acclimated to his new home. He was under the care of our aquarist and veterinary teams, who prepared him for a long future at Shark Reef Aquarium."