A sea tur­tle ate an eel, and what hap­pened in­side the tur­tle is one for the med­i­cal books

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Local & State - BY GWEN FILOSA [email protected] Gwen Filosa: KeyWestGwen

Shel­more the sea tur­tle has sur­vived a brush with death caused by in­gest­ing a two-foot-long eel.

The 112-pound log­ger­head was re­leased back to sea in Is­lam­orada on Satur­day af­ter re­cov­er­ing from surgery. Doc­tors at the Tur­tle Hos­pi­tal in Marathon had re­moved the eel from its body cav­ity, ac- cord­ing to the Florida Keys News Bureau.

In Septem­ber, vet­eri­nar­i­ans at the Tur­tle Hos­pi­tal per­formed a three­hour pro­ce­dure to re­move a goldspot­ted eel from the crit­i­cally ill tur­tle. res­cued by the Coast Guard.

Ini­tially, X-ray im­ages had led the vets to be­lieve the mass was a se­verely in­fected tur­tle shell gland. They soon dis­cov­ered that the eel had fought back while in­side the tur­tle.

They didn’t ex­pect Shel­more to live.

And they likened what they saw to a hor­ror movie, or the An­i­mal Planet show, “Mon­sters In­side Me.”

“It had chewed through her in­tes­tine and it was alive when she ate it and es­caped through a hole in her in­testines and died in her body cav­ity,” said Dr. Brooke Burkhal­ter, of the Tur­tle Hos­pi­tal.

“The amount of dam­age and in­fec­tion that was in her body cav­ity was in­sur­mount­able, but she pulled through and it’s a tes­ta­ment to the strength that these crea­tures re­ally have.”

Said Burkhal­ter: “It’s by far one of the most amaz­ing things I’ve seen.”

Sea tur­tles don’t typ­i­cally eat eels, so why the crea­ture be­came lodged in­side the sea tur­tle re­mains a mys­tery to hos­pi­tal staff.

ANDY NEW­MAN Florida Keys News Bureau

Bette Zirkel­bach, left, and Dr. Brooke Burkhal­ter re­lease Shel­more, a subadult log­ger­head sea tur­tle, off the Florida Keys at the Is­lan­der Re­sort in Is­lam­orada on Satur­day.

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