Hawaiian monk seal found with eel up nose

Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Brittany Dolan

Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Brittany Dolan

It's not every day that one sees a seal with an eel stuck up its nose, but researchers say that it is becoming a more common phenomenon.

>> Read more trending news

The Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program took to Facebook on Monday to offer some background on the strange occurrence. The researchers have found multiple juvenile Hawaiian monk seals with eels up their noses since first recording the phenomenon a few years back. NOAA said it's uncertain whether this is an emerging trend or a strange statistical anomaly.

Researchers said the eels were successfully removed without injury to the seals, but the eels did not survive.

NOAA has a couple of theories on how an eel could end up in a seal's nose. Seals forage for food by shoving their mouths and nose into their hunting area, and a cornered eel may have made a defensive move in an attempt to escape. Another theory is that a seal may have swallowed the eel and regurgitated it, with the eel coming out the wrong way.

About the Author