Why have seals been getting eels stuck up their noses?

Olive Hawkins
December 7, 2018

"Seals before eels, bruh"laughed a second". Now the beleaguered species is facing an unexpected new challenge - eels getting stuck up their noses.

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.

After spotting the weird pairing at French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands this past summer, researchers quickly acted to relieve the seal of its discomfort.

A photo shared by the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program has revealed the hilariously unfortunate predicament of a juvenile seal with a spotted eel lodged in its nostril. NOAA says of the slippery phenomenon, which has been recorded several times.

[I] n the almost 40 years that we have been working to monitor and protect endangered Hawaiian monk seals, we have only started seeing "eels in noses" in the last few years. "They are looking for prey that likes to hide, like eels,".

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'We don't know if this is just some unusual statistical anomaly or something we will see more of in the future, ' the NOAA post notes. Since Hawaiian monk seals forage for food by shoving their face into the tight space around coral reefs, it is possible that the occasionally cornered eel could mistake a seal's nostril for an escape route.

According to the final post in this saga, researchers were able to trap the seal and extract a 60cm-long goddamn eel from its nose, noting that it "was surprising as only about 10cm were hanging out" of its nose before extraction. The seals' numbers have increased, even though these little creatures always "find unique ways to get themselves into trouble", Littnan said.

Another possibility is that the seal downed the eel and then regurgitated it up the wrong way, much like that time you snorted out milk when your friend told you an unexpected joke. "We might not ever know".

NOAA reports all of the eel-huffing seals have shown no ill effects from their fish-sniffing experiments. As the Guardian reports, this incident is just the latest in a line of eels-in-nose incidents that have baffled scientists.

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