A calm-looking teenage Hawaiian monk seal is located near the sandy white beach of some green leaves. His eyes are half closed and his face is calm. But the calm printing behavior is surprising.
Why? Well, there is a long, black-and-white eel that hung from his right nostril.
"It's so shocking," said Claire Simeone, an expert in veterinary doctors and a moniker based in Hawaii. "This is an animal that has another animal that has stuck its nose.
Simeone was not the only person stunned by the photo print and his unusual facial outfit shared earlier this week on Facebook by the Hawaiian Ocean and Atmospheric Hawaii National Research Program.
The picture taken this year in the remote northwestern Hawaiian islands has been viral since then, drawing attention to a rare phenomenon that continues to hinder scholars like Charles Litan, who are now begging threatened seals to "make better choices."
It all began about two years ago when Litton, the leading scientist of the monastic seal program, woke up on a strange email of researchers in the field. The subject was short: "Nest nest."
"It was just like," We found a seal with an eel stuck in our nose, do we have a protocol? " "Litton told The Post on the phone.
There was no one, said Liton, and several messages and phone calls appeared before the decision to take an eel and try to pull it off.
"There were only about two centimeters from the eel, which were actually still carried by the nose, so it's very close to the magic trick when they take out the handkerchiefs and they keep coming and coming and coming," he said.
Less than a minute later, a dead eel of two and a half feet was coming out of the seal's nostrils.
Since then, Litton has said that at least three or four cases have been registered, and the latter occurred this autumn. In all cases, the eels were successfully removed and the seals "are doing great," he said. None of the eels, however, survived.
"We have no idea why this is happening suddenly," Litton said.
"You see some very strange things if you observe nature long enough and it can become one of these little quirks and secrets of our career that we will be retired after 40 years and we are still questioning how this happened."
Researchers have already found that this is not the result of a person with a personal vendetta against seals and eels, as all cases are reported from remote islands visited only by scientists. Lytton said there are a few theories about how an eel can naturally end up in the nostrils of printing.
The favorite prey – usually fish, octopus and, of course, eel – likes to hide in coral reefs to avoid eating, and since marine mammals have no hands, they have to hunt with their faces.
"They love to put their faces in the holes of coral reefs, and they will spit water out of their mouths to get out, and they'll do all sorts of tricks, but they'll put their faces in holes," said Litton,
Perhaps, he said, a toothpick, who decided that the only way to escape or to defend himself was to swim in the attacker's nostrils, and the young seals who "are not particularly fit to receive their food" were forced to learn a tough lesson.
But Litton said that the theory does not make 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 the monstrous seal nostrils that reflect reflexively when they dive for food are very muscular, and it would be difficult for any animal to push.
"I'm struggling to think of an eel that really wants to get into the nose," he said.
The other way the eels can find themselves in the nostrils is to throw them away. Like the way sometimes people eventually throw away food or drinks from their nose, it can also happen with seals that often vomit their food.
Still, Litton said that it does not seem possible that the "long, fat eel" pass through the nose, not from his mouth. The "most plausible" theory, he said, is that teenage girls are not so different from their human counterparts. Monk seals "seem naturally attracted by the intrusion," said Litton.
"She almost feels like one of those teenage trends that are happening," he said. "A youth press made this a very stupid thing and now others try to imitate it."
Although they did not die or were seriously affected by eels, carrying the dead animal in their noses for prolonged periods leads to potentially adverse health effects, said Simeone, director of Ke Kai Ola, nun hospital in Hawaii, run by the Center for marine mammals.
With an eel placed in his nose, a maiden spot will not be able to close the blocked nostril when he dives, which means that water can get into their lungs and cause problems like pneumonia, Simeone said. The destructive corpse of eels can also cause infections, she said.
On Facebook, the print photo had more than 1,600 reactions from early Friday morning. The title read: "On Monday … it might not have been good for you, but it had to be better than an eel in your nose." It has also turned into trending moment on Twitter.
This is a prayer https://t.co/rjDabSvvtw
– PHILIAN LARGE RINGING (@Scriblit) December 7, 2018
Many have expressed sympathy for the printing had to test what a Twitter user Described as "the most awkward thing".
"RIP eel, but how satisfactory it was for the seal when it was removed?" another person I was wondering,
However, Litton told "The Place" that the young seal "seems as if he does not notice the fact that his face has two eel feet".
In general, Simeon said, marine animals are "very strict." She added, "It's amazing what things can stand."
While the "snake trick" has not yet reached the print community, Litton said he hoped he would never do it.
"We hope this is just one of these bears that will disappear and will never be seen again," he said.
If monastic seals understand people, Litton said there was a message to them: "I would gently ask them to stop."
2018 © The Washington Post
This article was originally published by The Washington Post.