Hawaii: How does an eel get into the nose of a seal?

by    DiveSSI    11th December 2018
A juvenile Hawaiian monk seal was found with a spotted eel in the nose last summer in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (c) NOAA Fisheries / Brittany Dolan
Monk seal mom with her female pup at Mahaulepu Beach (Hawaiian Islands) (c) NOAA

Eals in Seals: Researchers are puzzled

Monk seals with eels in their noses have been observed several times in recent years on the Hawaiian Islands. Researchers at the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program (HMSRP) are puzzling over the causes and have no convincing explanation for the phenomenon.

Hawaiian monk seals seek their prey by pushing their mouths and noses into the cracks of coral reefs, under rocks or in the sand. They look for prey that likes to hide, such as eels. During this foraging, a cornered eel could have entered the nostrils of the animal. This is a theory of the researchers. Another scientist says that the seals may have tried to choke out the eel after swallowing it and then came out in the wrong opening (the nostril).

As NOAA reports, all seals observed by the researchers in this dangerous situation were captured and the eel was successfully removed. The seals were then released and all of them seemed well after the procedure.

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11th December 2018
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