"We've been intensively monitoring monk seals for four decades and in all of that time nothing like this has happened", said Charles Littnan, the lead scientist at Noaa's Hawaiian monk seal research program, to the Guardian. But weirdly, the incidence has been increasing in the past couple of years. But NOAA said "we might never know".
Oddly, it seems to always be in the right nostril, but "I don't really think that means anything", Littnan told Live Science. "We have no idea why it's happening".
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.
Do you mind? A juvenile Hawaiian Monk Seal with an eel up its nose. (22 kilograms) rocks to grab hiding octopuses, Littnan said. It has since happened enough times for the monk seal program to develop guidelines on how to remove the eels.
Fortunately, all the be-eeled seals they've spotted have been successfully de-eeled. Or the seal could have swallowed the eel first and regurgitated its prey out the wrong way.
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'This may be a case of an eel that was cornered trying to defend itself or escape.
The pic of the seal with an eel stuck up its nose has gone viral on social media.
Yes, that's an eel in a seal. Except ... is that an eel coming out of his nose?! Over the course of several posts, researchers with the program wrote they noticed a male seal with an eel stuck in its face and making a "wheezing sound with every breath". The seals were all fine, but the eels did not make it, according to the scientists' post.
Officials estimate only about 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals remain in the wild, most of which are found near the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. But recent years have shown "encouraging developments", according to NOAA Fisheries.
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.