Published: Fri, December 07, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Endangered monk seal spotted with eel stuck up its nose

Endangered monk seal spotted with eel stuck up its nose

'If you come across a Hawaiian monk seal mom and pup, please stay quiet and enjoy them from a distance, remaining behind any signs or barriers that might be present'.

The pic of the seal with an eel stuck up its nose has gone viral on social media.

It's believed the eel likely entered the monk seal when it was feeding in coral reefs, as they feed by sticking their noses into the sand and start digging around, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

KTLV reports that this particular viral picture was taken over the summer on the French Frigate Shoals.

A photo shared by the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program has revealed the hilariously unfortunate predicament of a juvenile seal with a spotted eel lodged in its nostril.

"Our researchers have observed this phenomenon three or four times now".

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"Mondays...it might not have been a good one for you, but it had to have been better than an eel in your nose", the agency said in a Facebook post.

What's even stranger is that the seal program has seen this happen before, first noting the phenomenon a few years ago and citing multiple cases of juvenile seals with nostril eels since then.

Researchers have managed to successfully remove all of the protruding eels, all from juvenile seals, but are still trying to ascertain why this is happening. "We don't know if this is just some odd statistical anomaly or something we will see more of in the future". Another is that startled eels get stuck there while attempting to flee the seals as the predators forage for food beneath rocks. "The eels, however, did not make it", writes marine biologist Brittany Dolan in the Facebook post.

The NOAA suggested that perhaps the seal had cornered the eel and the slippery creature tried to defend itself or escape before becoming the seal's lunch.

The program answered the question: "We don't know". "All the seals were released and haven't shown any issues from the incidents". "One of them was really far in so it was like a magician's handkerchief trick, we just had to keep pulling and pulling".

Or, just like in the YouTube videos where people sneeze and spit up long strands of pasta through their noses, the seal could have regurgitated an eel that it ate, with the eel coming out the wrong pipe, Littnan said.

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