Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Tucker the gassy sea turtle treated for the bends so he can dive

Rescued olive ridley sea turtle is too buoyant to be able to dive for food but experts hope to change that with decompression treatment

Friday 1 April 2016 05.41 BSTLast modified on Friday 1 April 201623.45 BST

Vets have put a rescued sea turtle into a hyperbaric chamber, usually used to treat human divers suffering the bends, in a bid to remove gas bubbles in its body that stop it diving.

Experts from Seattle will test the buoyancy of Tucker the 20-year-old endangered olive ridley sea turtle on Friday in the hope that they can one day release him back into the ocean.
The 32kg animal was found in December clinging to life along the coast of Oregon, far from his species’ usual warm-water habitat off southern California and Mexico, said Seattle Aquarium officials.

He has recovered from pneumonia and other complications from hypothermia but still has a buoyancy issue caused by internal gas bubbles in his body that prevent the reptile from diving or remaining underwater.

“It’s almost like the turtle is wearing a life preserver,” Seattle Aquarium spokesman Tim Kuniholm said on Thursday.

Aquarium vets brought Tucker to Virginia Mason hospital on Monday for a session in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber there, making him the first non-human patient to visit the pressurised facility and the first sea turtle in the US to undergo such a treatment for buoyancy problems.

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