Two sea turtles from the North Carolina Aquarium receive CT scans at the Sentara Kitty Hawk outpatient campus to help determine how they are recovering from injuries.

Injured sea turtles receive CT scans

Two sea turtles from the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island received CT scans at the Sentara Kitty Hawk outpatient campus, to help determine how they are recovering from injuries.

Vortex, a loggerhead, suffered a propeller strike in May of 2013 that caused a skull fracture. Aquile, a green turtle, suffered frostbite and lost part of her carapace, or outer shell, in January, exposing part of her spine.

“Turtles are precious to us,” said Janet Jarrett, executive director of the Sentara Kitty Hawk campus. “Many of us here volunteer to guard nests when the eggs are ready to hatch, and we’re glad to help the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles and the North Carolina Aquarium to rehabilitate them.”

The Aquarium’s rehabilitation team was glad to avoid a long drive to the veterinary school at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

“We were nervous about how hard the trip would be on them,” said Christian Legner, curator at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, which cared for a record 104 injured turtles in 2013. “It’s great to be able to drive just a few miles up the road, and we appreciate Sentara Kitty Hawk providing the CT scans.” With continued progress, Legner hopes Vortex might be released back to the wild sometime in August.

Loggerhead turtles are a protected species in North Carolina waters. Green turtles are on the endangered list in Florida waters. Barely one in 100 young turtles makes it to the Gulf Stream, and just one in 1,000 survive to adulthood. Turtles don’t reproduce until they are 25 to 35 years old, and most of their cookie-sized hatchlings are devoured by predators during the perilous scuttle to the ocean after they hatch in nests on ocean beaches.

“If you’ve ever seen a nest boil, you never forget it,” said Janet Jarrett of hatchlings spilling forth from a nest all at once. “Not many survive, and we’re committed to helping these injured juveniles make it.”