The quiet Hawaiian monk seal is on a sandy white beach on green leaves. His eyes are half closed and have a calm expression on the face. But the calm behavior of the seal is surprising.
Why? Well, a long black and white eel hangs from the right nostril.
"It's so shocking," said Claire Simeone, a veteran and monk seal specialist in Hawaii. "It's an animal that has another animal that he wore."
Simeone was not the only person stunned by the photo of the seal and his unusual facial ornament that was shared at Facebook earlier this week with the Hawaiian Monk Seal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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The image taken this year on the remote northwest Hawaiian island has since become viral and has drawn attention to a rare phenomenon that continues to smother scientists who are now asking for endangered seals to "better vote."
It all began about two years ago, when Charles Littnan, the chief scientist of the monk seal program, woke up to strange emails from researchers in the field. The subject was short: "Eel in the nose."
"It was like," We found a seal with an eel stuck in his nose, have a protocol? "Littnan said in a phone conversation on the phone.
It was nothing, Littnan said, and before it was decided to catch the eel, it took several emails and calls and tried to take them out.
"There were only about two centimeters of eel still pouring out of his nose, so he resembled a magic trick when he pulled out his handkerchiefs, and they still come and come and come," he said.
Less than a minute later, a dead eel of 2.5 and a half meters was emerging from the nostril.
Since then, Littnan has reported that at least three or four reported cases have been reported – the last fall event. In all cases the eels were successfully removed and the seal "doing great," he said. None of the eels survived.
"We have no idea why this is happening suddenly," Littnan said. "You see some very special things if you look at nature for a long time, and it could end up as one of those little peculiarities and secrets of our careers that we will be retiring after 40 years and we still question how it happened . "
Scientists have already discovered that this is not the result of a person with a personal vendetta against seals and eels because all cases have been reported on remote islands that scientists are just visiting. Littnan has said he has several theories about how the eel can naturally end up in the spur nose.
Preferable seal prey – usually fish, octopus and, of course, eel – want to hide in coral reefs to avoid, and because mammals have no hands, they have to hunt their faces.
"He likes to keep their faces in coral reef openings and spit out of their mouths to rinse things and make all the tricks, but they push their faces into the holes," Littnan said.
Perhaps, he said, the corner eel decided that the only way to escape or defend is to swim with the asshole and the young seals who "are not too familiar with getting their food yet" were forced to learn a hard lesson.
But Littnan says the theory does not make much sense.
"They are really long eels and their diameter is probably close to what would be for the nasal passage," he said.
He added that nasal nostrils, which reflexively close when they dive for food, are very muscular and it would be difficult for someone to pass through.
"I'm trying to think about an eel that really wants to bring its way to the nose," he said.
Another way the catch can end up in the nostrils is by throwing it up. Like people sometimes end up happening with food or drinks from their nose, it can also happen with seals that often eat meals.
Still, Littnan said that the "long, fat eel" would end up through the sealing nose, not the mouth. The "most reliable" theory, he says, is that teenagers from the Munich seal are not all but their human counterparts. Monkov Seal "appears naturally attracted to problem situations," Littnan said.
"She almost feels like one of the teenage trends that have happened," he said. "One juvenile seal has done this very stupid thing, and now others try to imitate it."
Although no seizures have died or have been seriously affected by eel, the dead animal on the nose for longer periods of time pose potentially adverse health impacts, said Simeone, director Ke Kai Ola, Hawaii Ambulance Hospital, Marine Mammals Center.
With the eel stored in his nose, the monk's seal could not close the blocked nasal hole during diving, which means that water can get into the lungs and cause problems like pneumonia, Simeone said. The decomposing skeleton of the eel can also lead to infections, she said.
On Facebook, the photo of the seal was more than 1,600 responses since the beginning of Friday morning. The headline read: "On Monday … maybe it was not good for you, but it had to be better than a nose in the nose." It has also become a Twitter trend.
Many have expressed sympathy for the seal that was supposed to experience what Twitter described as "the most inconvenient thing at all".
"RIP Eel, but how did it have to be for the seal when it was pulled?" she was interested in another person.
Littnan, however, told The Post that the young seal "appeared seemingly quite distrustful of pulling two eel feet out of her face."
Simeone generally says marine animals are "very stoic" and adds, "It's amazing what things can tolerate."
While the "Eating of Eels" is still in the process of being in communion with seals, Littnan said he hoped he would never do it.
"We hope it will be just one of those smudges that will disappear and never see," he said.
If the monk seals understood people, Littnan said he had the message to them: "I would gently beg for them to stop."