Sea turtles get scans at Sentara Kitty Hawk

Shared By RANDI CLARK, Communications and Marketing Advisor at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center (photos compliments of Shooters at the Beach)

First up: Fin, a Kemp's ridley found stranded on Hatteras Island in November 2014, got a scan for the second year to check on the healing of skull and flipper fractures (photo compliments of Shooters at the Beach).


Four sea turtles from the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island received CT scans at the Sentara Kitty Hawk campus on Friday. The scans help aquarium staff to get a better look into the extent of the how well the turtles are recovering from injuries.

“Our staff is always excited about taking care of the turtles and we look forward to these opportunities,” said Anna Lambert, diagnostic imaging manager of Sentara Kitty Hawk. “It is a privilege to be a part of their recovery and to know that it makes a difference.”

Augie, a green sea turtle found in July 2013 by the Beaufort, NC Coast Guard, is a possible candidate to be returned to the sea this year. Augie suffered fractures to two of his flippers, apparently from an interaction with a boat.

Early CT scans allowed a specialized splint to be created with a 3D printer by the North Carolina State University College of Engineering. Since both front flippers were injured, Augie has been at the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center for an extended period of time. Veterinarians have been monitoring Augie’s progress to be sure that the flipper bones are growing properly.

Local Scanning is Key: Long transports are difficult for the sea turtles so scanning locally is important (photo compliments of Shooters at the beach).

“We hope this CT scan is the last before this turtle is cleared for release!” said Christian Legner, North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island Curator. If cleared, Augie will likely return to the wild in August.

The aquarium’s STAR Center, operated in partnership with the Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (NEST), rehabilitates sick and injured sea turtles. The goal of the program is to rehabilitate then reintroduce the turtles back into the sea. The Center currently houses 8 sea turtles.

Seafoam, a green sea turtle stranded in Corolla in June 2015, has what appear to be crushing injuries to the carapace and a fractured pelvis. This scan will help vets quickly choose the best way to treat this turtle (photo compliments of Shooters at the beach).

Turtles on the Go

The new STAR Center at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island is keeping very busy this winter!  We said goodbye to 11 sea turtles on Sunday! Aquarium staff helped get this group down to the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, then the Coast Guard released them into the Gulf Stream yesterday. But just as soon as this group left, more were waiting to get checked in….turtles don’t like cold water temperatures resulting in lots of *cold stuns over the winter months on the Outer Banks.

NEST Volunteers and Aquarium staff have been keeping very busy with the remaining 16 patients at the STAR Center….but today wildlife rehabilitator and NEST volunteer Lou Browning of Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation (with the assistance of Daniel Pullen of Daniel Pullen Photography) rescued a large Loggerhead found in Hatteras. Thanks go out to everyone for all your hard work–let’s hope the holidays keep the turtles out in warmer waters!

*Cold stunning is similar to hypothermia in humans. Sea turtles are cold-blooded reptiles, meaning their body temperature is dictated by the surrounding water, so they are vulnerable to sudden changes in water temperature. As water temperatures drop in the fall, sea turtles are on the move. After spending the spring and summer feeding in our productive waters, they gradually move south or offshore to warmer waters where they spend the winter. If turtles stay too long and water temperatures drop suddenly, as they often do this time of year, the turtles “cold stun.” Often, these cold stunned turtles are then blown onto our beaches by prevailing winds.