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Hawaiian monk seal has removed eel from the nose





  • COURTESY NOAA / BRITTANY DOLAN

    A young Hawaiian monk seal was spotted at the French Frigate Shoals in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands with a spotted eel in its nose this past summer.


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

On Monday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program posted on its Facebook page a photo of a juvenile Monk Robber with what appears to be a spotted eel in his nose.

"Monday … it may not have been good for you, but it must have been better than an eel in your nose," the post said. "We have already reported on this phenomenon, which was first noticed a few years ago. We have now several times found juvenile seals with eels in the nose. In all cases the eel was successfully removed and the seals were in order. However, the eels did not make it.

Monk seal researcher Charles Littnan, departmental director of the Department of Protected Species, said this was the third or fourth case scientists had observed of a seal with an eel in its nose. 19659006] "It is interesting that in the nearly 40 years that we have monitored and conserved, we have only started in recent years," he said in an e-mail. "We do not know if this is just a strange statistical anomaly or something that we will see more of in the future."

How did it happen?

Hawaiian monk seals food by poking its mouth and nose in coral reefs, under rocks, or in the sand, he said, looking for prey that would like to hide, like eels.

"This could be the case if an eel was cornered to defend or flee," he said. "Alternatively, the seal could have swallowed the eel and reopened it, leaving the eel in the wrong place Maybe we never know. "

Fortunately, no damage was observed to the seals.

"All the seals we've encountered in this slippery situation have been quickly and successfully intercepted by our response teams and the eel," he wrote. "All seals have been released and no incidents have been reported."

Hawaiian monk seals are a critically endangered species found only in Hawaii and protected by both federal and federal laws. Only about 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals live in the wild, with the majority located in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

If you encounter a Hawaiian monk seal that appears to be in distress, call the NOAA hotline at (888) 256-9840.


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