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Endangered seal with eel up its nose remains a mystery

08 December 2018

A photo of a seal with an eel stuck in its nose shocked and delighted social media.

No, it's not a tongue-twister for your office Christmas party, it's something that's actually been happening in Hawaii.

Endangered Hawaiian monk seals are facing a unusual new threat, on top of the usual challenges from disease and becoming caught in fishing nets. The post said that it had removed eels from the noses of several seals they're monitoring and that the seals were unharmed in every case, but the same couldn't be said for the eels.

There are around 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals left in the world, and they are all found in the Hawaiian islands.

A Hawaiian monk seal with an eel coming out of its nose?

A monk seal was spotted with an eel dangling from is nose.

Monk seals nose around in coral reefs, root around in the sand, and flip over 50-lb.

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"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.

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

Baffled researchers have no idea how the seal (or the eel) found itself in this 'slippery situation, ' though they suspect it has something to do with the way the mammals hunt. Another is that startled eels get stuck there while attempting to flee the seals as the predators forage for food beneath rocks. Or the seal could have swallowed the eel first and regurgitated its prey out the wrong way.

The picture, which shows the seal looking surprisingly chill, has everyone amused.

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.

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.

"What is interesting that in the almost 40 years we have been monitoring and conserving we have only started seeing this in the last few years", he said in an e-mail.

Endangered seal with eel up its nose remains a mystery