Why have seals been getting eels stuck up their noses?

Why have seals been getting eels stuck up their noses?

Why have seals been getting eels stuck up their noses?

Earlier this week, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program shared a photo showing a juvenile Hawaiian monk seal with a long eel stuck in its nostril.

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

Researchers aren't certain how eels end up in this tight spot, but they have a few ideas.

"Alternatively, the seal could have swallowed the eel and regurgitated it so that the eel came out the wrong way", NOAA said. "The seals were all fine, but the eels did not make it".

Endangered Hawaiian monk seals are facing a odd new threat, on top of the usual challenges from disease and becoming caught in fishing nets.

You might think the life of a Hawaiian monk seal would be pretty easy. It was nearly like those magic trick scarves that keep pulling out of the hat'.

"Having a rotten fish inside your nose is bound to cause some problems", Littnan said.

Or if the seal brought the eel out to the surface to eat the prey, the eel could have whipped around and got into the nose, Littnan said.

Hawaiian Monk Seal Gets Eel Stuck Up Its Nose

"If I had to guess, I would say that it's one of those unusual oddities", Littnan said.

However, the unusual part about the whole incident is that it is not a one-off thing.

The team has so far successfully extracted the eels from all the seals found in this predicament, with the seals being released back into the wild.

After spotting the weird pairing at French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands this past summer, researchers quickly acted to relieve the seal of its discomfort.

Nosy researchers are trying to understand why Hawaiian monk seals keep getting slippery eels lodged up their snouts, adding to the challenges faced by the endangered species.

They can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes and dive more than 1,800 feet to forage for food on the sea bed.

However, the agency says it has managed to save up to 30 percent of the monk seals in the current population, cutting the rate of population decline by half.

'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.

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