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.

In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Bette Zirkelbach, manager of the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital, helps guide
In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Bette Zirkelbach, manager of the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital, helps guide “Shelmore,” a subadult loggerhead sea turtle, to deeper water after it was released off the Florida Keys at the Islander Resort in Islamorada, Fla. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)
In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Bette Zirkelbach, manager of the Turtle Hospital, answers questions about
In this photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, Bette Zirkelbach, manager of the Turtle Hospital, answers questions about “Shelmore,” a subadult loggerhead sea turtle, prior to the reptile’s release off the Florida Keys in Islamorada, Fla. (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP)
FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2018, file photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, veterinarian Dr. Brooke Burkhalter displays a goldspotted eel she surgically removed from the body cavity of
FILE – In this Sept. 25, 2018, file photo provided by the Florida Keys News Bureau, veterinarian Dr. Brooke Burkhalter displays a goldspotted eel she surgically removed from the body cavity of “Shelmore,” a subadult loggerhead sea turtle, at the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Fla. (Bette Zirkelbach/Florida Keys News Bureau via AP, File)

Source: The Associated Press

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