A juvenile Hawaiian monk seal was found with a spotted eel in its nose at French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands this past summer (Photo: NOAA Fisheries/Brittany Dolan).
A Hawaiian Monk Seal was spotted with an eel stuck in its nose.
According to a post on the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program's Facebook page, the phenomenon is not uncommon, having reported on such sightings several times over the years.
"Yet, our researchers have observed this phenomenon three or four times now," says a post on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website. "We don't know if this is just some strange statistical anomaly or if we will see more eels in seals in the future."
NOAA also said the seals commonly forage by shoving their mouth and nose into the crevasses of coral reefs, under rocks or into the sand. They said seals are specifically looking for prey that hides, like eels.
This specific case could have been the cause of the seal swallowing the eel and then regurgitating it the wrong way or, the eel trying to defend itself when it was trying to escape.
"We might never know," NOAA said online.
The eels have successfully been removed from the seals in all caught instances, however, the eel has never made it.