Viewing Marine Life
Watching marine animals in their natural habitat can be a positive way to promote conservation and respect for animals and their environment.
2018 monk seal updates from NOAA Fisheries in the Pacific Islands.
How does an eel end up in the nose of a seal?
A juvenile Hawaiian monk seal was found with a spotted eel in its nose at French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands this past summer (Photo: NOAA Fisheries/Brittany Dolan).
In the nearly 40 years that we have been working to monitor and protect endangered Hawaiian monk seals, we have only started seeing "eels in noses" in the last few years. Yet, our researchers have observed this phenomenon three or four times now. We don't know if this is just some strange statistical anomaly or if we will see more eels in seals in the future.
Hawaiian monk seals forage by shoving their mouth and nose into the crevasses of coral reefs, under rocks, or into the sand. 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. We might never know.
All of the seals that we have encountered in this slippery situation have been quickly caught by our response teams and the eel gently and successfully removed. The seals were released and haven't shown any issues from the incidents.
A record number of pups were born in the main Hawaiian Islands in 2018, be sure to enjoy observing them from a respectful distance.
So far in 2018, 30 pups have been born in the main Hawaiian Islands, soundly beating the previous record of 21 pups in 2013. Eight of this year’s pups were born to first time moms, including our most recent pup born to new mom R8HE in Maui Nui (Maui County). We know some folks get really excited about new seal pups and want to go see them in person - we do too! But too many visitors can unintentionally disrupt resting and nursing. That’s why we usually refrain from publicizing specific pup locations and we ask that you do the same. By not specifying pup locations in our social media posts, we can help keep disturbance to a minimum.
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. If no sign or volunteer is present, please call it in to our hotline at (888) 256-9840.
Hawaiian monk seal "Rocky" (RH58) arrived on a remote beach on Kauai on Saturday, July 14. On Monday morning, July 16, she was observed with a new pup. Watch the video.
Hawaiian monk seal "Rocky" (RH58) arrived on a remote beach on Kauaʻi on Saturday, July 14. On Monday morning, July 16, she was observed with a new pup. Rocky and the pup both appear to be doing well. We have not determined if the pup is male or female at this time.
All photos and videos taken with a NMFS research permit.