How did an eel get stuck up a seal's nose?

Image NOAA FISHERIES  BRITTANY DOLAN

The pic comes courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hawaiian Monk Seal Research program.

No, it's not a tongue-twister for your office Christmas party, it's something that's actually been happening in Hawaii.

The phenomena could cause potential problems for the seals in terms of infections or even by affecting their ability to dive and feed on marine creatures.

The uncomfortable sight on the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program Facebook page has received over 1,000 shares, and left many wondering what is going on.

'If you come across a Hawaiian monk seal mom and pup, please stay quiet and enjoy them from a distance, remaining behind any signs or barriers that might be present'.

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.

According to the team with the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program, the odd phenomenon has been seen a handful of times in the past - each with the same outcome.

The administration said it has seen the same "eels in noses" phenomenon almost a handful of times in the last few years.

"They get stuck in there really snug, so you have to restrain the seal and give the eel a firm tug to get it out", said Littnan.

Hawaiian monk seals forage by shoving their mouth and nose into the crevasses of coral reefs, under rocks, or into the sand, he said, in search of prey that like to hide, such as eels.

Now if they could just keep their noses clean. "All the seals were released and haven't shown any issues from the incidents", NOAA adds.

The eels are just the latest threat faced by the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, which is regarded as highly at risk by Noaa.

Monk seals are endangered. Charles Littnan, a monk seal conservation biologist has said that as yet, scientists do not know why this is occurring but has a few theories.

The agency works with individual seals in order to save them, focusing on young and reproductive females.

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