A juvenile Hawaiian Monk Seal found itself in a spot of bother earlier this week when a sizeable eel became lodged in its nose. "In nearly 40 years of monitoring, we have actually never observed this until a few years ago", Littnan said.
"If I had to guess, I would say that it's one of those strange oddities", Littnan said. This whole situation could just be a "weird anomaly" or a "crazy statistical quirk, and we may never see it again", he added.
And, it's not even the first time they've seen this happen.
NOAA scientists have a couple ideas about how the eel might have gotten into the seal schnoz. "They are looking for prey that likes to hide, like eels,". (22 kilograms) rocks to grab hiding octopuses, Littnan said.
Apparently the seals were fine but the eels didn't make it, unfortunately.
"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. Since this phenomenon has been observed only in juvenile seals, Littnan said it could also just be that the seals are inexperienced at hunting.
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 have now found juvenile seals with eels stuck in their noses on multiple occasions. "Seals before eels, bruh"laughed a second". As the Guardian reports, this incident is just the latest in a line of eels-in-nose incidents that have baffled scientists. An eel in the nose may be bad, but a rotting eel in the nose would be even worse; bacteria from the rotting flesh could have infected the animal, Littnan said. 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.
In every instance of eel-nose, including this one, the researchers have removed the eel successfully.
According to the NOAA Fisheries, researchers recorded a record number of pups born to the endangered Hawaiian monk seals on the main Hawaiian islands in 2018. But recent years have shown "encouraging developments", according to NOAA Fisheries.
Once revealed the seal was in good health, social media users couldn't help but poke a little fun at the "rebel" sea creature.