SALT LAKE CITY — Scientists are a little upset with Hawaiian seals because, well, they’re getting eels stuck up their noses.
What’s going on: The Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, which is a part of the United State’s NOAA Fisheries agency, shared a photo on Facebook Monday that showed a seal with a creature hanging out of its nose.
That slippery creature is an eel.
- "Mondays ... it might not have been a good one for you but it had to have been better than an eel in your nose," the HMSRP wrote on its Facebook page.
- Scientists say they’re baffled by seeing these seals with eels in their nose since there’s no protocol on how to fix it, according to The Washington Post.
Why it matters: Monks seals have invaded Hawaiian island in recent years, beginning in summer 2016 off the coast of the Lisianski Island, CNN reports.
- The Hawaiian monk seal is one of the rarest seal species in the world and is one of the U.S. most endangered species, according to the NOAA. They often live around eight remote islands near Hawaii.
Reaction: Charles Littnan, the HMSRP's lead scientist, said they don’t understand much about this phenomenon of the eels being stuck up the seals’ nose.5 comments on this story
- "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."
- Claire Simeone, a monk seal expert in Hawaii, told The Washington Post the sight is just “so shocking.”
- “It’s an animal that has another animal stuck up its nose,” she added.
Bigger picture: Littnan told The Washington Post they’re still trying to figure out the origin of this phenomenon.
- “We have no idea why this is suddenly happening,” Littnan said. “You see some very strange things if you watch nature long enough, and this could end up being one of these little oddities and mysteries of our careers that 40 years from now, we’ll be retired and still questioning quite how this happened.”