“He should have died. Twice.
First, when he was born too weak to scramble from his sandy birthplace and scuttle to the sea. Rescued once, the tiny loggerhead sea turtle came down with pneumonia, which damaged his lungs. His hind fins didn’t develop properly, making a swim to the ocean deep impossible.
But with careful veterinary care, Ozzy survived. Now, the year-old loggerhead will be a star at Camden’s Adventure Aquarium turtle exhibit, which opens Monday.
The exhibit, called Turtles: Journey of Survival, features 19 turtle species that live in water, mud, and even sand. The three-month exhibit hasn’t fully opened, but children at the aquarium Thursday noticed Ozzy right away.
“Cool! A turtle!” a blond boy shouted as he and his father walked past Ozzy’s blue tank.
“I think it’s all about the face,” said Nikki Grandinetti, exhibit curator.
Across from Ozzy, Bob, a 21-year-old, 450-pound loggerhead, swam by a window into the aquarium’s main tank, where sharks, fish, and stingrays live. Bob is the largest of the three adult sea turtles in the tank.
“Turtles look like they’re flying in the water; they look magical,” Grandinetti said.
Starring in a Disney film doesn’t hurt either. Loggerheads named Crush and Squirt were featured in the 2003 animated film Finding Nemo. The movie wasn’t “biologically accurate,” Grandinetti notes, but it did help children develop an attachment with creatures they can’t pet.
Loggerheads are an endangered species found along the East Coast and in coastal waters in temperate and tropical climates in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Typically, loggerheads flap their fins and swim about, occasionally coming to the surface for air. Ozzy, who weighs 5.72 pounds and is about the size of a dinner plate, rests on the bottom of his 1,700-gallon tank. His lungs don’t fully inflate, so he tends to sink. He can swim and surface for air but is less active than other turtles because his hind flippers suffered muscle or nerve damage, aquarium officials said.
As he grows, he’ll be moved to increasingly larger tanks, eventually to the main 760,000-gallon tank.
On Thursday, Ozzy sat placidly at the sandy bottom of his tank. As iridescent white fish swooped around him, Ozzy tucked his front fins underneath him like a cat. Left in nature, “he’d probably be somebody’s food,” Grandinetti said.”