An endangered sea turtle got a trip to a Tampa training center where doctors learn advanced medical skills so that veterinarians could figure out what is ailing it.
Freud, a 22-pound juvenile green sea turtle, was lethargic, bloated and covered with algae when it was found on a Florida Panhandle beach in November 2012.
The turtle was initially treated at Gulf World Marine Park in Panama City Beach and then sent to Florida Aquarium.
Veterinarians call Freud a "floater" because the turtle is unable to dive. They thought that air was collecting in the turtle's body, making it unusually buoyant, but they couldn't figure out what was causing the condition that has put pressure on Freud's internal organs and caused a slight deformity of its shell.
On Tuesday, veterinarians took Freud to the University of South Florida's Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, where they examined the turtle's airway with a tiny video camera and performed other advanced digital scans.
The procedures revealed that air was trapped near Freud's left lung and there was bubbling within its airway, perhaps caused by a lesion. Veterinary radiologists will review the results and recommend a course of treatment.
Kathy Heym of the Florida Aquarium was cautiously optimistic about Freud's prognosis.
"He's been doing fine, despite his lesion — eating, swimming. We just know this isn't something he can live with forever. He's already starting to have some problems as a result of it," she said.
If Freud can regain the ability to dive, the turtle could eventually be released.