This poor seal got an eel stuck up its nose

Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program/ Facebook

Maybe it was a dare. Maybe you were eating too quickly. Maybe you just really wanted to see if it fit in there. However it happened, many of us have gotten something stuck up our noses at some point in our lives.

Apparently, seals are not that different than humans because scientists in Hawaii found a monk seal with a little something stuck up its nose.

And by “little something,” I mean a 2-foot eel.

This picture, posted on Monday Dec. 3 (because of course it was a Monday), shows the seal being remarkably calm for having an eel dangling out of its nostril. The image has since gone viral, with more than 1,600 shares.

And believe it or not, this was not a one-time thing. Scientists told the Washington Post they have seen four or five cases of this happening to juvenile monk seals within the last two years. In each case, scientists were able to get the eels out and the seals were all fine. (The eels, however … not so much.)

But the question remains: How did that thing get up there?

Scientists have a few theories. The first is that seals, as a result of not having hands, tools or pizza delivery, need to hunt by sticking their faces into rocks. It’s possible an eel decided to swim up the seal’s nose as a last resort, though scientists say seals dive with their nostrils shut, so this is unlikely.

Another theory is that the seal throws up while trying to eat the eel, bringing to mind a song we sang in Hawaii as kids called “Don’t Sneeze When You Eat Saimin.”

But lead researcher Charles Littnan thinks there might be a more benign explanation: Teens of all species are prone to doing stupid things.

“It almost does feel like one of those teenage trends that happen,” Littnan told the Washington Post. “One juvenile seal did this very stupid thing and now the others are trying to mimic it.”

Of course, I have my own theory. Have you ever tried to pick your nose with a flipper?

Animals, Curiosity, Science & Nature, Wild Animals

About the Author
Mitchell Byars
Mitchell Byars was born and raised in Hawaii and currently lives in Boulder, Colorado, where he is a reporter. On his free time, he likes to golf, swim and enjoy a nice beer.

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