30 Greatest Unsolved Mysteries Of The Universe

The seal and the eel

A seal with an eel up its nostrilCopyrights: US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa)

It’s quite often that we’ll see cute pictures of an animal caught being naughty. Chewing slippers, getting into a pickle and stealing food are all common pastimes for some animals – but they tend to be domesticated pets, rather than those in the wild. So when researchers studying the lives of the endangered Hawaiian monk seal found one with a spotted eel hanging from its nostril, they were stumped. Are wild animals just as playful and carefree as our cats and dogs?

The photo of the unassuming seal with an eel stuck up its nose is kind of cute, but the poor creature must have felt like it had the worst blocked nose ever. Researchers at the US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) have been studying these seals for 40 years, and surprisingly, this isn’t the first time they’ve found one in this predicament.

Since 2016, they’ve found a handful of them with eels up their noses. They think it could be down to one of two things – the eel could have slipped into the nostril of a seal when the seal was foraging for food by poking their nose and face into rocky crevices and corals. Or, it’s common for seals to regurgitate their food and vomit it through their mouth and nose. Could they have consumed an eel by mistake? The truth is though, they simply don’t know. Who knew seals could be so secretive?


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