The Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program (HMSRP), based in Honolulu, part of the US agency NOAA Fisheries, published a photo on its Facebook page on Monday that showed a seal with the slippery creature firmly deposited in its right nostril.
This non-dignified incident is just the latest in a long (and undulating) series of eel invasions to hit Hawaiian nuns – a phenomenon that was first sighted in summer 2016 at off the Lisianski island of Hawaii.
"On Monday … it may not have been nice for you, but it must have been better than an eel in the nose," he joked HMSRP on his Facebook page.
The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the rarest seals in the world and is classified as threatened in the United States. Most of the population lives around eight remote islands of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and in 201
"We have already reported this phenomenon, which was noted a few years ago, we have now found juvenile seals with eels stuck in the nose on multiple occasions," added the HMSRP.
Charles Littnan, the chief scientist of the HMSRP, noted that the researchers are still baffled by the phenomenon.
"We have intensively monitored the monks' seals for four decades, and nothing like that happened in all that time," he told The Guardian. "Now it's happened three or four times and we have no idea why."
NOAA has proposed two hypotheses: firstly, eels rush into defense on seals as they search for food, pushing their mouths and nose into cracks in coral reefs and under rocks.
Another theory suggested by agency is that a seal can swallow a whole eel and then regurgitate it through its nose
Littnan told the Guardian that some eels were so far away housed in an attempt to remove them as a "magician's handkerchief make-up", since environmentalists must "pull and pull".
The conservation agency reassured viewers on Facebook that the eel was successfully removed, stating that the procedure required a slight shrinkage of the seal and a slow and steady traction on the eel, with a total of about 30 seconds.
"In all cases the eel was successfully removed and the seals were in place, but the eels did not make it," the agency said on Facebook.
Animal lovers have however taken on Facebook to express their alarm, questioning why an eel would embark on such a reckless mission.
"What kind of heavenly goodness is in the nose of a seal that Does he run his eels at risk for this? "one wrote
Despite the successful extraction of the eel, they could pose a serious threat to the seals. The HMSRP warned that seals are at risk for infections and toxins produced by microalgae that accumulate in fish associated with the coral reef. Blockages of the nose could also hinder the ability to dive seals, as mammals typically have to close their nostrils when they are under water.