Sea turtle released into Florida waters after eel removal

December 30, 2018
1 of 4
In this photo provided by the 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, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018. During a Sept. 25 surgery at the Keys-based Turtle Hospital Burkhalter had surgically removed a goldspotted eel from the reptile's body cavity. Though the 112-pound turtle was not expected to live, it recovered. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)

ISLAMORADA, Fla. (AP) — A loggerhead sea turtle that required surgery to remove a 2-foot-long (0.61-meter-long) eel from its body cavity has been released back into the waters off the Florida Keys.

The turtle named “Shelmore” was returned to the ocean Saturday off Islamorada not far from the spot where it was discovered in September, floating and unable to dive.

Veterinarians said the eel had eaten through the turtle’s intestinal tract to get to the body cavity before dying.

Turtle Hospital veterinarian Brooke Burkhalter performed a three-hour procedure to remove a dead goldspotted eel from the critically ill turtle.

It’s not clear why the turtle ate the eel, which is not a normal part of the reptile’s diet.

Update hourly