Turtle washed up on Cornish beach has a scan after epilepsy fears
An epileptic turtle who keeps having fits underwater has been taken for an MRI scan to try to discover if a brain tumour is behind her health problems.
Snorkel, a loggerhead turtle, washed up on a Cornish beach in 1990 and has been living at the National Marine Aquarium (NMA) in Plymouth for more than ten years.
The popular resident could not be released back into the wild because of her condition, for which she is given the same daily medication that human epilepsy sufferers receive.
Aquarium staff decided that Snorkel, believed to be aged 25, should undergo an MRI scan to try and identify the source of her recent bad health.
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But none of the machines in local hospitals were big enough for the 5ft (1.5m) long, marine reptile, so she had to undergo a 300-mile round trip to Cheltenham where they have a specialist scanner for "larger individuals."
Snorkel was taken from her tank on Saturday, covered in petroleum jelly to prevent her skin and shell from drying out, before being placed in a foam box for the journey.
James Wright, senior biologist at the NMA, said: "Everything went very smoothly on the day – she came out of the scan and was woken back up fine.
"Early indications are that she does not have a brain tumour. Our vet could not see anything wrong but is taking the results to a specialist radiologist so we should know for sure soon. All in all it's positive news."
He said one surprise that the scan revealed was the presence of several eggs inside Snorkel, which have probably been lying dormant for several years.
The much-loved turtle is still a little groggy from the journey so is being kept in a separate tank for a few days away from the other creatures. She will be back on display for visitors from Monday, July 4.
Snorkel weighs 71kg and is fed twice a day, munching her way through 100 squid every week.
She is currently the only loggerhead turtle in her tank at the aquarium – in the wild, turtles are solitary animals, so adding another to the tank could lead to fighting and possible serious injury.