Eels stuck in endangered monk seals’ noses turning into unusual trend

Do you mind? A juvenile Hawaiian Monk Seal with an eel up its nose. Image Facebook  Hawaiian Monk Seal Research ProgramMore

Regardless, we're happy to hear this sweet, vaguely irritated monk seal has been returned to its normal, eel-less state.

'We have now found juvenile seals with eels stuck in their noses on multiple occasions.

Earlier this week, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program shared a photo showing a juvenile Hawaiian monk seal with a long eel stuck in its nostril.

After spotting the freaky pairing at French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands this past summer, researchers quickly acted to relieve the seal of its discomfort. "In nearly 40 years of monitoring, we have actually never observed this until a few years ago", Littnan said.

"They get stuck in there really snug, so you have to restrain the seal and give the eel a firm tug to get it out", said Littnan.

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Apparently the research org has only started seeing the eel-in-seal phenomenon within the last few years, despite having been researching the seals for more than four decades.

An image of one such dummy was surfaced Monday on the Facebook page for the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, which monitors the endangered population of these seals. "We don't know if this is just some unusual statistical anomaly or something we will see more of in the future", the NOAA wrote.

'They are looking for prey that likes to hide, like eels. The seals were all fine, but the eels did not make it, according to the scientists' post. The shot shows a sleepy seal staring at the camera while lounging on the French Frigate Shoals in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

The phenomena could cause potential problems for the seals in terms of infections or even by affecting their ability to dive and feed on marine creatures.

But, the researchers note, 'we might not ever know'. Another theory is that seals trying to regurgitate swallowed eels might accidentally send the slippery fish out the wrong hole. As the Guardian reports, this incident is just the latest in a line of eels-in-nose incidents that have baffled scientists.

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