Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Endangered monk seal spotted with eel stuck up its nose

Hawaiian Monk Seal Gets Eel Stuck Up Its Nose Why have seals been getting eels stuck up their noses?
Sandy Nunez | 07 December, 2018, 09:39

And while nobody knows for sure why seals keep getting eels stuck up their noses, experts do have two theories: "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".

Researchers have managed to successfully remove all of the protruding eels, all from juvenile seals, but are still trying to ascertain why this is happening.

"If I had to guess, I would say that it's one of those strange oddities", Littnan said.

The administration said it has seen the same "eels in noses" phenomenon almost a handful of times in the last few years.

'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.

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As to how the eel gets stuck, Littnan has several ideas.

'If you come across a Hawaiian monk seal mom and pup, please stay quiet and enjoy them from a distance, remaining behind any signs or barriers that might be present'. So, they go for the food, like eels, whose strategy is to hide.

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. Since this phenomenon has been observed only in juvenile seals, Littnan said it could also just be that the seals are inexperienced at hunting. But the eel may have gotten deeper into the nose, preventing the seal from removing the invader. It has since happened enough times for the monk seal program to develop guidelines on how to remove the eels. 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. We have now found juvenile seals with eels stuck in their noses on multiple occasions. "The eels, however, did not make it", Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program revealed in its Facebook caption.

Hawaiian monk seals are a critically endangered species found only in Hawaii, and are protected by both state and federal laws. The seals' numbers have increased, even though these little creatures always "find unique ways to get themselves into trouble", Littnan said.