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

"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 freakish photo this week.

"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.

The response teams have been able to successfully remove all eels from the affected seals.

There are around 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals left in the world, and they are all found in the Hawaiian islands. Why is there an eel in it's nose? We have now found juvenile seals with eels stuck in their noses on multiple occasions.

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

The Washington Post interviewed the head of the Monk Seal Program Charles Littnan and he explained that they have no idea why it's happening.

The administration said it has seen the same "eels in noses" phenomenon almost a handful of times in the last few years.

The caption read, "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 removal process took less than a minute and while the seal was uninjured, the eel wasn't so lucky.

Researchers are apparently baffled by this phenomenon first observed off Hawaii's Lisianski Island in 2016. (22 kilograms) rocks to grab hiding octopuses, Littnan said. "If you observe nature long enough, you'll see unusual things".

The other possibility is that the eel "deliberately crawled in the seal's nose". Or the seal could have swallowed the eel first and regurgitated its prey out the wrong way.

Perhaps, he said, a cornered eel decided that the only way to escape or defend itself was to swim up its attacker's nostril, and young seals who are "not very adept at getting their food yet" were forced to learn a tough lesson.

Experts speculate that the phenomenon may be the result of seals foraging for food in cracks and crevasses of coral reefs, which they're wont to do. "Nose blockages could also hamper the seals' ability to dive, as the mammals typically need to close their nostrils when under water".

If monk seals could understand humans, Littnan said he has a message for them: "I would gently plead for them to stop".

Vanessa Coleman

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