Hawaiian monk seal has eel removed from its nose

The Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program released a photo on Monday of a poor Hawaiian monk seal, squinting in what can only be a what-is-my-life look, with a probably-also-distressed eel stuck up its nose.

A photo of a juvenile seal in the slippery predicament was shared this week by the US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).

"We have now found juvenile seals with eels stuck in their noses on multiple occasions", the organisation wrote. While the unfortunate, recently photographed seal was doing this, an eel could have, in a case of self-defense, "rammed itself into the nostril and maybe got stuck", Littnan said.

It's not clear, however, why this keeps happening.

Hawaiian monk seals forage by shoving their mouth and nose into the crevasses of coral reefs, under rocks, or into the sand, he said, in search of prey that like to hide, such as eels.

Or seals could be swallowing the eels and then regurgitating them. "We might not ever know".

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.

"This may be a case of an eel that was cornered trying to defend itself or escape", he said. The seals were all fine, but the eels did not make it, according to the scientists' post.

Endangered Hawaiian monk seals are facing a odd new threat, on top of the usual challenges from disease and becoming caught in fishing nets.

The picture, which shows the seal looking surprisingly chill, has everyone amused. But the eel may have gotten deeper into the nose, preventing the seal from removing the invader.

'The eel was succesfully removed from (the seal's) right nostril this afternoon in 45 seconds!' the team told Newsweek.

"It was nearly like those magician trick scarves that they just keep pulling out of the hat", the post added.

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

  • Essie Rivera