Published: Fri, December 07, 2018
Science | By

Why have seals been getting eels stuck up their noses?

Why have seals been getting eels stuck up their noses?

According to the NOAA website, researchers started spotting eels in seals' noses just a few years ago, even though the Hawaiian monk seals have been monitored for over 40 years due to their status as a protected endangered species.

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

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.

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

"Mondays...it might not have been a good one for you but it had to have been better than an eel in your nose", said the post.

"What is interesting that in the almost 40 years we have been monitoring and conserving we have only started seeing this in the last few years", he said in an e-mail. This whole situation could just be a "weird anomaly" or a "crazy statistical quirk, and we may never see it again", he added.

NOAA scientists have a couple ideas about how the eel might have gotten into the seal schnoz. The monk seals feed on or near the bottom of the ocean, because they're "very efficient" and "don't like to chase things in the water", he said.


"Hawaiian monk seals forage by shoving their mouth and nose into the crevasses of coral reefs, under rocks, or into the sand".

The pic of the seal with an eel stuck up its nose has gone viral on social media.

Fortunately, no harm to the seals was observed. It has since happened enough times for the monk seal program to develop guidelines on how to remove the eels. Or, the seal regurgitated it and it went out the wrong place. Except ... is that an eel coming out of his nose?!

The research group found another eel stuck in the same predicament in 2016.

In every instance of eel-nose, including this one, the researchers have removed the eel successfully. "The eels, however, did not make it", Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program revealed in its Facebook caption.

According to the NOAA Fisheries, researchers recorded a record number of pups born to the endangered Hawaiian monk seals on the main Hawaiian islands in 2018.

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