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Monk seal spotted with eel stuck up its nose. Oh yeah, that happens, scientists say

Researchers in Hawaii spotted a monk seal with an eel stuck in its nostril and snapped a picture. They say this happens sometimes, and they have two theories as to why. The eels have always been removed.
Researchers in Hawaii spotted a monk seal with an eel stuck in its nostril and snapped a picture. They say this happens sometimes, and they have two theories as to why. The eels have always been removed. Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program

Have you ever gotten home from work and thought, boy, that was a rough day?

Well at least you don’t have a big eel hanging out of your nose.

Researchers at the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program spotted a monk seal lounging with an eel jammed up its nose on Monday. They posted the picture to Facebook and said it had happened before.

“Mondays ... it might not have been a good one for you but it had to have been better than an eel in your nose. We have reported on this phenomenon before which was first noted a few years back,” the research center wrote. “We have now found juvenile seals with eels stuck in their noses on multiple occasions. In all cases the eel was successfully removed and the seals were fine. The eels, however, did not make it.”

The researchers said in a comment that they restrain the seals and give a “slow steady pull” to get the eel out, all in about 30 seconds.

The Hawaiian monk seal is a critically endangered species that eats fish, squid, octopus, crustaceans and eels, according to Oceana. The research program “works to enhance the recovery of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal by studying their biology, ecology and natural history,” according to its website.

People had jokes galore when they saw the photo of the unfortunate seal.

So how did it happen?

“Monk seals feed by sticking their noses in coral reefs and digging in sand so it is possible the eel was defending itself or trying to escape and forced itself into the nose. Or, the seal regurgitated it and it went out the wrong place. More likely the first...” the researchers wrote, according to Hawaii News Now.

The researchers first reported on nosy eels in 2016, when they received an email from a field team about an eel in a similar sticky situation, according to a Facebook post.

“The seal’s behavior has been normal but he is exhibiting a wheezing sound with every breath. No open-mouth breathing though,” the group wrote. They advised decided to remove the eel, because the researchers were afraid the seal could inhale water if it tried to swim or dive.

Later, they got the good news.

“It was definitely weird, as the eel was almost 2 feet long, which was surprising as only about 4 inches were hanging out of (the seal’s) nostril ... it was almost like those magician trick scarves that they just keep pulling out of the hat,” the field team wrote. “We are pretty sure the complete animal was removed, as the skull was found, but some fins or spines may have come off the eel during the removal. The seal did not struggle very much, and no blood came out when the eel was being removed.”

Two kayakers (@taiyomasuda and @barekiwi) in New Zealand have become a viral sensation after a seal slapped one of them in the face with an octopus. A GoPro Hero 7 captured the exact moment.

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