After spotting the freaky pairing at French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands this past summer, researchers quickly acted to relieve the seal of its discomfort.
'Hawaiian monk seals forage by shoving their mouth and nose into the crevasses of coral reefs, under rocks, or into the sand, ' the NOAA team explains. In some other cases, the researchers have seen, in which around 2 feet (0.6 meters) of the eel was stuck the seal's nose, the seals must have regurgitated the prey, Littnan said.
Yes, that's an eel in a seal.
The Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program posted a startling pic of the poor pup on Monday, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries provided more details in a post on Wednesday. In all cases the seals were fine.
"We have now found juvenile seals with eels stuck in their noses on multiple occasions", the organisation wrote.
To which the NOAA basically said, "Dunno".
A monk seal was spotted with an eel dangling from is nose. "We don't know if this is just some odd statistical anomaly or something we will see more of in the future".
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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. As the Guardian reports, this incident is just the latest in a line of eels-in-nose incidents that have baffled scientists.
Fortunately, no harm to the seals was observed.
The program reported another eel-in-nose incident on Facebook in 2016.
Nosy researchers are trying to understand why Hawaiian monk seals keep getting slippery eels lodged up their snouts, adding to the challenges faced by the endangered species. "The eels, however, did not make it".
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.
Officials estimate only about 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals remain in the wild, most of which are found near the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
NOAA reports all of the eel-huffing seals have shown no ill effects from their fish-sniffing experiments. And reader - for the love of god - if you are eating, please stop reading now.