What they do know: All the seals they have found sporting this peculiar nose accessory are doing fine.
A picture of a monk seal with an eel up its nose was shared this week by a Hawaii-based division of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). "In nearly 40 years of monitoring, we have actually never observed this until a few years ago", Littnan said.
Apparently the research org has only started seeing the eel-in-seal phenomenon within the last few years, despite having been researching the seals for more than four decades.
Researchers noted that in all the cases, the eels have been successfully removed.
These seals search for prey that likes to hide by shoving their mouths and noses into the crevasses of coral reefs, under rocks and into sand. "The eels, however, did not make it", writes marine biologist Brittany Dolan in the Facebook post.
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'We don't know if this is just some odd statistical anomaly or something we will see more of in the future, ' the NOAA post notes.
A juvenile Hawaiian Monk Seal found itself in a spot of bother earlier this week when a sizeable eel became lodged in its nose.
Another possibility is that the seal downed the eel and then regurgitated it up the wrong way, much like that time you snorted out milk when your friend told you an unexpected joke.
Good news, though, at least for the seal. Only about 1,400 Hawaiian monk seals remain in the wild, with the majority residing in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
In this case, a relatively small part of the eel is in the nose, which "leads me to thinking that the eel forced itself in while trying to escape", Littnan said.
Let us know what you think of the pic using the comments section below. "All the seals were released and haven't shown any issues from the incidents". As the Guardian reports, this incident is just the latest in a line of eels-in-nose incidents that have baffled scientists.
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