'Make Better Choices': These Seals Keep Getting Eels Stuck Up Their Noses

April 15, 2023

Endangered Hawaiian monk seals keep getting eels stuck up their noses and no one knows why this keeps happening.

The Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program (HMSRP), part of the NOAA Fisheries agency, posted a photo on its Facebook page of one of the seals with an eel lodged in its right nostril.

"We have reported on this phenomenon before which was first noted a few years back. We have now found juvenile seals with eels stuck in their noses on multiple occasions," the organization wrote.

In all cases the eel was successfully removed and the seals were fine.

Charles Littnan, the HMSRP's lead scientist, noted that researchers are still baffled by the phenomenon.

"This is a good example that no matter how well studied or watched an animal is, it is always going to present you with something you have never seen before," he told CNN. "Sometimes it is an amazing demonstration of intelligence or physical ability, sometimes it is a juvenile seal with an eel stuck in its nostril."

If monk seals could understand humans, Littnan said he would "gently plead for them to stop" and to "make better choices".

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