Seal with eel stuck up its snout gets help from nosy scientists


But the eel may have gotten deeper into the nose, preventing the seal from removing the invader.

This phenomenon, eels getting stuck in seals' noses, is rare; the team has observed only three or four cases of eel-nose in the past four decades, said Charles Littnan, a monk seal conservation biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries.

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

In what is truly a freakish phenomenon reportedly stumping researchers, a handful of not-so-smart Hawaiian monk seals have recently been observed with eels stuck up their noses - possibly from shoving their faces into crevices, but researchers tasked with observing these fools can't say for sure.

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

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

[I] n the almost 40 years that we have been working to monitor and protect endangered Hawaiian monk seals, we have only started seeing "eels in noses" in the last few years.

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Researchers noted that in all the cases, the eels have been successfully removed.

But researchers are still baffled as to why and how this happens.

Researchers aren't certain how eels end up in this tight spot, but they have a few ideas. "We don't know if this is just some unusual statistical anomaly or if we will see more eels in seals in the future", NOAA said.

A monk seal was spotted with an eel dangling from is nose. The seals were all fine, but the eels did not make it, according to the scientists' post.

"This may be a case of an eel that was cornered trying to defend itself or escape", he said.

Another possibility is that the seal downed the eel and then regurgitated it up the wrong way, much like that time you snorted out milk when your friend told you an unexpected joke.

The refreshing news comes as researchers work to protect the endangered species, which is one of just two species of monk seal still in existence. "We might not ever know". Only about 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals remain in the wild, with the majority residing in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. "All the seals were released and haven't shown any issues from the incidents". It was nearly like those magic trick scarves that keep pulling out of the hat'.