Endangered monk seal spotted with eel stuck up its nose

Enlarge ImageYes that's an eel in a seal.                  NOAA Fisheries  Brittany Dolan
Enlarge ImageYes that's an eel in a seal. NOAA Fisheries Brittany Dolan
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08 December, 2018

The photo of the Hawaiian Seal was with the tail end of the creature hanging from its nostril was released by the Hawaiin Monk Seal Research Program (HMSRP). This whole situation could just be a "weird anomaly" or a "crazy statistical quirk, and we may never see it again", he added. "The seals were all fine, but the eels did not make it". "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.

Thankfully, the researchers have been able to extract all of the eels they have spotted, but they are still baffled as to why it is happening.

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.

"Our researchers have observed this phenomenon three or four times now".

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

One theory is that, because seals forage for food by shoving their noses into rock pools and coral reefs, eels they encounter could try and defend themselves by plunging into the seals' noses.

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The vet tried to remove the eel with "quick handling" because breathing problems would be exacerbated if the seal tried to swim or dive. "They are looking for prey that likes to hide, like eels,".

'The eel was succesfully removed from (the seal's) right nostril this afternoon in 45 seconds!' the team told Newsweek. Or, the seal regurgitated it and it went out the wrong place.

Apparently, eels getting stuck in seals noses happens occasionally, but no one is certain as to why.

In every instance of eel-nose, including this one, the researchers have removed the eel successfully.

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.

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


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