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

James Marshall
December 6, 2018

We have now found juvenile seals with eels stuck in their noses on multiple occasions.

No, it's not a tongue-twister for your office Christmas party, it's something that's actually been happening in Hawaii.

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. "All of the seals that we have encountered in this slippery situation have been quickly caught by our response teams and the eel gently and successfully removed", the agency said.

Monk seals are endangered.

Monk seals nose around in coral reefs, root around in the sand, and flip over 50-lb. So, they go for the food, like eels, whose strategy is to hide.

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 agency has two theories on why it happened in this case: A cornered eel was trying to defend itself or escape, and wound up in the seal's nose.

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.

Fortunately, no harm to the seals was observed.

If that had been the case with this seal, the animal probably could have gotten rid of the eel on its own by shaking its head around.

Yes, that's an eel in a seal. Also, seals' nostrils close automatically when the animals go under water, and having an eel in there could have hindered that process, closing off an all-around great day for the seal with some water up the nose.

Good news, though, at least for the seal.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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