The spectacle of a spotted eel nesting in the nose of a vulnerable Hawaiian monk seal leaves researchers scratching.
A photo of a juvenile seal in the slippery location was released this week by the US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).
Despite the nearly 40-year observation of the species, they have seen this phenomenon only a few times since 201
All seals were caught and released after the eels were carefully removed.
The researchers offered two hypotheses for the natural occurrence.
When a Hawaiian monk seals seals by sticking their mouths and noses in cracks in coral reefs, under rocks, or in the sand, an entrapped eel could become stuck trying to defend itself or flee.
Eels could be the result of the seal, which often raises food and raises its food in the wrong way.
The truth remains a mystery, but meanwhile Noaa has developed guidelines for the removal of eels in future incidents.