Support Us
Follow Us

Here's a horror story for you: A sea turtle ate a live eel that then chewed its way out of the turtle's intestines only to die in the turtle's body cavity.

Um, what?


According to CBS Miami, staff at Florida's Turtle Hospital were shocked when they operated on an injured sea turtle that turned out to have an eel lodged in her stomach.

Nicknamed Shelmore, the loggerhead sea turtle had originally been rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard and brought to the Turtle Hospital for recovery.

X-rays on the injured turtle initially pointed to an infected shell, per CBS Miami.

Oh how wrong that was. Here's what was actually inside:

Now knowing that it was an eel inside, you can actually make that out on the X-ray.


Facebook/Brooke Mattman Burkhalter

Turtle Hospital veterinarian Brooke Mattman Burkhalter posted a series of photos of the surgery on Facebook where she explained the full crazy story:

Shelmore, a 180-pound loggerhead sea turtle, is by far the most interesting and bizarre case of my veterinary career thus far! She somehow ingested a 2-foot-long live eel, without chewing or crushing it. The eel ate through her small intestine to escape, becoming trapped within her body cavity where it then died. After several weeks, Shelmore was rescued and brought into the Turtle Hospital for treatment.

The idea of your meal staying alive long enough to eat its way out of your intestines is literally the stuff of nightmares. Fortunately Shelmore got the surgery she needed, and Burkhalter posted a photo of her recovery.

She's already swimming around again in a small pool.

Not only is it surprising that the eel was unchewed and able to stay alive through the turtle's intestines, but it's shocking that it made its way into the turtle at all.

AP News reported that sea turtles don't typically eat eels.


Scuba Diving magazine reported that loggerhead sea turtles like Shelmore are carnivores, but they usually eat bottom-dwelling animals like crabs and sea urchins.

However the eel got there, and however it managed to stay alive long enough to attempt an escape, this serves as a great lesson to sea turtles and humans alike.

Chew your food, friends. Just in case.


Add your name right now to make a difference for marine life and our oceans with Oceana.

Show Comments ()

Literally Just 50+ Photos of Stunningly Beautiful Sea Slugs

Did you know nudibranchs (aka sea slugs) are basically the Beyoncés of the ocean? Check out these beautiful sea slugs that, you know, woke up like this.

Keep Reading Show less

Sign Up For Our Newsletter Subscribe Shark

Sign Up For Our Newsletter Subscribe Shark