Why have seals been getting eels stuck up their noses?

07 December, 2018, 19:55 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Enlarge ImageYes that's an eel in a seal.                  NOAA Fisheries  Brittany Dolan

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

A monk seal spotted with eel stuck up its nose in Hawaii.

"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 Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program captioned the freaky photo this week.

In a post to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries website on Wednesday, the agency said that it had observed such an incident "three or four times now" but that it is a relatively new occurrence.

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The post said that it had removed eels from the noses of several seals they're monitoring and that the seals were unharmed in every case, but the same couldn't be said for the eels.

Monk seal researcher Charles Littnan, division director of the protected species division, said this is the third or fourth case scientists have observed of a seal with an eel in its nose.

Researchers noted that in all the cases, the eels have been successfully removed. "We don't know if this is just some odd statistical anomaly or if we will see more eels in seals in the future", NOAA said. "They are looking for prey that likes to hide, like eels,". Since Hawaiian monk seals forage for food by shoving their face into the tight space around coral reefs, it is possible that the occasionally cornered eel could mistake a seal's nostril for an escape route.

They also suggested that the seals could have swallowed the eels and regurgitated it, causing the eels to come out the wrong way. "We might never know". "All the seals were released and haven't shown any issues from the incidents", NOAA adds. "One of them was really far in so it was like a magician's handkerchief trick, we just had to keep pulling and pulling".

There are only an estimated 632 mature Hawaiian monk seals left in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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