Hawaiian Monk Seals Face New Threat: Getting Eels Stuck Up Their Noses

Enlarge ImageYes that's an eel in a seal.                  NOAA Fisheries  Brittany Dolan

"Mondays...it might not have been a good one for you but it had to have been better than an eel in your nose", the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program captioned the freakish photo this week.

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

"The eels, however, did not make it", Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program revealed in its Facebook caption. It has since happened enough times for the monk seal program to develop guidelines on how to remove the eels.

Yes, that's an eel in a seal. We don't know if this is just some unusual statistical anomaly or something we will see more of in the future.

"They get stuck in there really snug, so you have to restrain the seal and give the eel a firm tug to get it out", said Littnan. "We might never know". Another is that startled eels get stuck there while attempting to flee the seals as the predators forage for food beneath rocks.

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. Have you ever seen a face that said "guess this is my life now lol" more than that stupid seal's stupid face?

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Do you mind? A juvenile Hawaiian Monk Seal with an eel up its nose.

Fortunately, all the be-eeled seals they've spotted have been successfully de-eeled. But the eel may have gotten deeper into the nose, preventing the seal from removing the invader.

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.

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 uncomfortable sight on the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program Facebook page has received over 1,000 shares, and left many wondering what is going on.

Or, just like in the YouTube videos where people sneeze and spit up long strands of pasta through their noses, the seal could have regurgitated an eel that it ate, with the eel coming out the wrong pipe, Littnan said.

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