VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A team of radiologists at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital had a special patient, this morning. They did an MRI on a loggerhead sea turtle that vets believe was struck by a boat.

“I’ll be truthful with you here, I don’t think we’ve ever done an MRI on a turtle here before so this will be out first,” Radiology director Louis Caron said.

"Obviously the anatomy is much different than a human so the techniques may be a little different… And I think we actually Googled it too online so get some information. It’s been done before but we’ve never done it here.”

The patient is a loggerhead sea turtle, somewhere between the ages of 10 and 15—too young to tell if it’s a male or female.

Sarah McCormick of the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program said someone called them to report the injured animal on July 4th. 

RELATED: Sea turtles get CT scans like human patients at Sentara Albemarle

“He was hooked by a fisherman out at Buckroe fishing pier in Hampton. The fisherman removed the hook initially, he did have secondary hooks within his gastrointestinal tract, which have passed, but this injury here on his shell was likely caused by a vessel,” she said.

“It is unfortunately pretty common. We do see a number of vessel interactions on sea turtles and marine animals in this area.”

The damage on the shell is obvious but they don’t know just how bad the damage may be underneath.

Stranding Response Coordinator Alexander Costidis said an MRI will help. 

 “Our goal is to evaluate the injuries especially the soft tissue to see if they’re severe enough that we should be more concerned or change our course of medical treatment,” he said.

CT scans on turtles have been done before, but the MRI will be a first.

Once the results from the MRI come in, members of the Stranding Response Program say they’ll be able to better rehabilitate the animal and release it back into the ocean.

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