A loose-looking angelic monk seal lounge on green foliage near a white sand beach. His eyes are half-closed and his face is calm. But the calm attitude of the seal is surprising.
Why? Well, there's a long black and white eel hanging from his right nostril.
"It's just so shocking," said Claire Simeone, veterinarian and monk seal expert on Hawaii, on Thursday (6 December). "It's an animal that has another animal in its nose."
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Simeone was not the only person to be surprised by the photo posted on Facebook earlier this week by the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration , The image taken on the remote northwestern Hawaiian Islands this year has since become viral, highlighting a rare phenomenon that still baffles scientists who are now asking the endangered seals for "better choices."
It All Began Two years ago, when Charles Littnan, senior scientist of the Monk Seals Program, woke up to a strange email from researchers in the field. The subject line was short: "Eel in the nose."
"It was like this:" We found a seal with an eel in the nose. Do we have a protocol? "Said Littnan. There were none, Littnan said, and it took several e-mails and phone calls until the decision was made to grab the eel and try to pull out the eel.
"There were only two inches of eel left eel left, so it was very similar to the magician's trick when they pulled out the handkerchiefs and they come and come and come and come," he said. After less than a minute of tearing, a 2 ½-foot eel emerged from the nostril of the seal.
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. There have been at least three since then, Littnan said, or four reported cases, the most recent of which occurred this fall. In all cases, the eels were successfully removed and the seals "are doing well," he said. None of the eels survived.
"We have no idea why this happens suddenly," Littnan said. "You see some very strange things when you observe nature long enough, and this could end up becoming one of those little curiosities and secrets of our career that we will not have in 40 years' time, we will retire and still ask how this happened. "
Researchers have already stated that this is not the result of a person with a personal vendetta against seals and eels, since all cases were reported from remote islands visited only by scientists. Littnan said he had some hypotheses about how an eel could naturally be clamped in the nostril of a seal.
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"They like to put their faces in the coral reef holes, and they will do it spit water out of their mouths to flush things out, and they will do all sorts of tricks. But they poke their faces in holes. "Littnan said."
Perhaps, he said, an eel turned to the corner decided that the only way to escape or defend was to swim up the nostril of his attacker, and young seals that "are not "Being aware of whether or not they still had something to eat" was "forced to learn a difficult lesson."
But Littnan said hypotheses made no sense. "They are really quite long eels, and their diameter is probably close he said.
He added that the nostrils of a monk's seal reflexively close when they dive for food, are very muscular, and it would be difficult for any animal to prevail. "I'm struggling to think of an eel that really wants to feast its nose," he said.
Let's put the gigantic cow that wins the Internet into perspective [1965-9002] vomit. Just as people sometimes mistakenly spit food or drinks out of their noses, so could seals that often pick up their meals.
Nevertheless, Littnan says, it does not seem possible that a "long, fat eel" would end up going through the nose of a seal and not out of his mouth. The most plausible hypothesis, he said, is that teenage monk seals do not differ so much from their human counterparts.
Monk seals seem to be "naturally in loose situations," Littnan said. "It almost feels like one of those teenage trends: a juvenile seal did the very stupid thing, and now others are trying to imitate it." Eels, which have a dead animal in their nostrils for long periods of time, have potential negative health effects, said Simeone, director of Ke Kai Ola, a seal-seal hospital in Hawaii operated by the Marine Mammal Center. New Orleans Airport Now Offers Reptile Selfies
With a eel in its nose, a monk seal could not close the stuffy nostril while diving. This means that water can get into the lungs and cause problems like pneumonia, Simeone said. A decaying Aalkadaver could also lead to infections, she said.
On Facebook, the photo of the seal on Friday morning had more than 1,600 responses. The caption read: "Monday … it may not have been good for you, but it must have been better than an eel in your nose." It also became a trend on Twitter.
Many expressed their sympathy that the seal must experience what a Twitter user has called "the most unpleasant thing ever". "RIP eel, but how satisfying must it have been for the seal when it was pulled out?" Wondered another person.
Littnan, however, said the young seal "apparently seemed quite aware that two feet of eel sticking out of his face." In general, Simeone said sea creatures were "very stoic," adding, "It's amazing what kind of things they can tolerate."
While "eel snorting" in the seal community is not yet there, Littnan said he hopes this will never happen, "we hope it's just one of those fluff that will disappear and never be seen again," he said.
If monk seals could understand humans, Littnan said he had one Message for her: "I would kindly ask you to stop. "
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