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