Endangered seal with eel up its nose remains a mystery

Endangered seal with eel up its nose remains a mystery

Endangered seal with eel up its nose remains a mystery

The pic comes courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hawaiian Monk Seal Research program.

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

Or an exam. The good news is it pales in comparison to what some Hawaiian monk seals have begun dealing with in recent years: nasal dwelling eels. It has since happened enough times for the monk seal programme to develop guidelines on how to remove the eels. The subject line was short: "Eel in nose". Over the course of several posts, researchers with the program wrote they noticed a male seal with an eel stuck in its face and making a "wheezing sound with every breath". "We don't know if this is just some odd statistical anomaly or something we will see more of in the future".

In an elaborated post on the NOAA Fisheries website, the experts say seals with an eel jammed up their nose have been seen three of four times over the last 40 years.

An image of one such dummy was surfaced Monday on the Facebook page for the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, which monitors the endangered population of these seals.

They've told the media they really have no idea what's causing the spike in eel-related incidents.

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. "Do we have a protocol?'" Littnan said. "Sometimes it is an wonderful demonstration of intelligence or physical ability, sometimes it is a juvenile seal with an eel stuck in its nostril". "If you observe nature long enough, you'll see unusual things".

But as eels like to hide from predators, including monk seals digging around in coral reefs and rocks, they might see a nostril as a place of safety in a sudden attack.

Or (charmingly) the eels could be a regurgitation of an earlier meal the seal consumed.

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. He's also apparently "begging" the seals to "make better choices".

Others wonder if these juvenile seals are just doing what teenagers do.

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

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