Endangered Hawaiian monk seals face new challenge: eels stuck up their noses

Hawaiian Monk Seal Eel In Its Nose

The vet tried to remove the eel with "quick handling" because breathing problems would be exacerbated if the seal tried to swim or dive.

The photo of the adorable and mildly uncomfortable-looking seal with an eel dangling from its nostril was shared by the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, which works with the NOAA Fisheries to conserve and protect the Hawaiian Monk seal population, according to Newsweek.

A juvenile Hawaiian monk seal was spotted with a spotted eel in its nose at French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands this past summer.

According to the team with the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, the unusual phenomenon has been seen a handful of times in the past - each with the same outcome.

"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.

Baffled researchers have no idea how the seal (or the eel) found itself in this 'slippery situation, ' though they suspect it has something to do with the way the mammals hunt.

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.

'We don't know if this is just some unusual statistical anomaly or something we will see more of in the future, ' the NOAA post notes.

'In all cases the eel was successfully removed and the seals were fine. So, they go for the food, like eels, whose strategy is to hide.

One theory is that seals, which often regurgitate their meals, are simply throwing up eels through their noses.

In this case, a relatively small part of the eel is in the nose, which "leads me to thinking that the eel forced itself in while trying to escape", Littnan said.

According to National Geographic, Hawaiian monk seals' average lifespan is 25 to 30 years in the wild.

The program answered the question: "We don't know". "All the seals were released and haven't shown any issues from the incidents", NOAA adds.

"It was nearly like those magician trick scarves that they just keep pulling out of the hat", the post added.

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