Seal pictured with spotted eel stuck in its snout

"Possibly easier to remove than a piece of Lego," one mother remarked on social media.
"Possibly easier to remove than a piece of Lego," one mother remarked on social media. Photo credit: : NOAA Fisheries/Brittany Dolan, NOAA Permit #16632-02

Toddlers may be prone to getting foreign objects stuck their nostrils, but it turns out so do young seals.

A Hawaiian monk seal has been photographed with a spotted eel dangling from its snout, and researchers say the phenomenon has been seen a handful of times in the past few years.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program shared the photo to its Facebook page on Tuesday.

'We have reported on this phenomenon before which was first noted a few years back,' the team wrote.

'We have now found juvenile seals with eels stuck in their noses on multiple occasions."

With some "light restraint of the seal and a slow steady pull" the eel out was successfully removed from its predator's mouth in about 30 seconds.

The seals were unharmed in all cases - the eels however did not make it.

Researchers say "we might never know" how the eel came to be stuck in the endangered mammals mouth but they have their suspicions.

"Hawaiian monk seals forage by shoving their mouth and nose into the crevasses of coral reefs, under rocks, or into the sand," a marine scientist said.

"They are looking for prey that likes to hide, like eels. This may be a case of an eel that was cornered trying to defend itself or escape.

"Alternatively, the seal could have swallowed the eel and regurgitated it so that the eel came out the wrong way."

The image garnered hundreds of reactions on social media, with a number of commenters sharing quips and witty remarks.

"When an eel lunges out and clamps on to your snout, That's a Moray," one person joked.

Another wrote: "When you laugh so hard spaghetti shoots out your nose..."

One mother simply bantered: "Possibly easier to remove than a piece of Lego."


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