Eels stuck in endangered monk seals’ noses turning into unusual trend

Image NOAA FISHERIES  BRITTANY DOLAN

Unfortunately, the eel's fate wasn't as lucky.

It's the question on everyone's lips at the moment - just why do seals keep getting eels stuck up their noses?

Or if the seal brought the eel out to the surface to eat the prey, the eel could have whipped around and got into the nose, Littnan said.

In a post to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries website on Wednesday, the agency said that it had observed such an incident "three or four times now" but that it is a relatively new occurrence.

NOAA has been monitoring and protecting the endangered species for almost 40 years but has only noticed eels in seals for the last few years.

"All of the seals that we have encountered in this slippery situation have been quickly caught by our response teams and the eel gently and successfully removed. The eels, however, did not make it".

And, the phenomenon has only popped up recently. "We don't know if this is just some unusual statistical anomaly or something we will see more of in the future".

Seals may be prone to this type of problem because of the way they hunt, the experts say.

Researchers recorded a record number of seal pups born on the main Hawaiian islands this year.

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There are only an estimated 632 mature Hawaiian monk seals left in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

This is up significantly from the previous record set in 2013, when 21 pups were born.

The Hawaiian monk seal has become endangered due to a range of threats, from fishing net entanglements to disease.

Either way, all can agree it doesn't look comfortable.

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

Researchers aren't certain how eels end up in this tight spot, but they have a few ideas.

'Alternatively, the seal could have swallowed the eel and regurgitated it so that the eel came out the wrong way.

"This may be a case of an eel that was cornered trying to defend itself or escape", he said.

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