Research

How did an eel get stuck up a seal's nose?

How did an eel get stuck up a seal's nose?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program reported on a squicky find this week when it shared a Facebook photo of a seal with a spotted eel dangling from its nose. Honestly, despite not being a seal and not having an eel now lodged up my schnozz, I can truly empathise.

"The eels, however, did not make it", Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program revealed in its Facebook caption. While the unfortunate, recently photographed seal was doing this, an eel could have, in a case of self-defense, "rammed itself into the nostril and maybe got stuck", Littnan said.

'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.

Baffled researchers have no idea how the seal (or the eel) found itself in this 'slippery situation, ' though they suspect it has something to do with the way the mammals hunt.

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.

Oddly, it seems to always be in the right nostril, but "I don't really think that means anything", Littnan told Live Science. "We might never know".

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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.

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. "It might not have been a good one for you but it had to have been better than an eel in your nose".

Fortunately, no harm to the seals was observed. Except ... is that an eel coming out of his nose?!

Only about 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals remain in the wild, with the majority residing in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

The phenomena could cause potential problems for the seals in terms of infections or even by affecting their ability to dive and feed on marine creatures.

The picture, which shows the seal looking surprisingly chill, has everyone amused.