The Hawaiian monk seal has been threatened due to a number of threats, from fish networks to diseases. Now the…
The Hawaiian monk seal has been threatened due to a number of threats, from fish networks to diseases. Now the coated species faces an unexpected new challenge – the eels fasten their noses.
A picture of a monk seal with an eel raised its nose was shared this week by a Hawaii-based division of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The episode was just the latest eel-in-snout incident that occurred in the past two years, confusing researchers.
“We have carefully monitored monk seals for four decades and throughout this time nothing has happened,” says Charles Littnan, leading researcher at Noah’s Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program. “Now it has happened three or four times and we have no idea why.”
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Researchers first noticed a seal with an eel nasal appendage in the summer of 201
6, email colleagues who initially thought it was a joke. Since then, there have been enough times for the monk seal program to develop guidelines for removing the eel.
“They’re stuck in very nicely so you have to hold back the seal and give the eel a tight tow hook to get it out,” says Littnan. “One of them was very far in as it was like a wizard’s handkerchief, we were just having to go drag and pull. “
The phenomena can cause potential sealing problems with regard to infections or even by affecting their ability to dive and feed on marine creatures. Seals usually seal the nostrils closed when they appear in water, a process hindered by the presence of a nose. “Having a raw fish inside the nose is bound to cause some problems,” explains Littnan.
Researchers have managed to remove all prominent eels, ranging from juvenile seals, but trying still to find out why this happens.
One theory is that seals, which often regurgitate their meals, simply throw up eels through their noses. Another is that scary Eel sticks there while trying to escape from the seals as the predators feed for food under the stones. However, researchers are unsure why this capture is only now witnessed by people.
“If I had to guess, I would say it’s one of the strange wonder,” says Littnan. “If you observe nature for a long time, you’ll see strange things.”
Munk seals are endemic to Hawaii and are listed in the United States as a threatened species, with about 1400 people left. Hot that includes fishing and disease, with climate change another challenging challenge.