A snake eel has burrowed out of a heron’s guts and burst through its neck in mid-air, reenacting the classic chestburster scene from Alien. This is the amazing moment a snake eel crawls out of a heron and bursts through its body as the bird is flying.
Sam Davis, a 58-year-old amateur photographer, was photographing animals in a nature reserve in Maryland, United States. The engineer and sk.i.l.led wildlife photographer witnessed the heron seize and devour the eel before taking flight. The eel, however, burst from the bird’s neck and dangled beneath the heron in the air.
Snake eels are a group of eel species that spend most of their life burrowed in the soft sand on the ocean floor. When eaten alive by predators, they can make a grisly escape by utilizing their hard-pointed tail tip, which is used for digging, to break through the predator’s stomach wall in an attempt to avoid digestion. Sam’s images recorded the snake eel successfully escaping from the bird, which must have regretted its choice of meal.
‘I went to the refuge to photograph foxes and eagles and whatever else could be intriguing,’ Sam explained. Two juvenile eagles saw the heron’s dilemma and began following him around, presumably in search of a meal. At first, I assumed the heron had been ʙɪᴛᴛᴇɴ on the neck by a snake or eel. When I came home and looked at the images, I realized it was an eel coming through his neck. ‘I could see his eyes, and he was still alive,’ I said.
Sam, who posts images of nature to his Instagram account, went on to say, ‘The wildlife sanctuary indicated they had never seen anything like it before.’ It’s a disturbing photograph. There was also a fox who detected the presence of an animal in distress. He was also following the heron and keeping an eye on the eagles.’ Scientists have discovered that the snake eel’s extraordinary escape mechanism does not always aid in its survival. While it is not digested alive, it frequently becomes stuck inside the predator’s body and d.i.es in the stomach cavity.
The eel can be imprisoned for a long time before becoming mummified in the intestines. RSPB specialist Martin Fowlie told MailOnline: ‘I thought 2020 couldn’t get much weirder!’ Snake eels had previously been documented attempting to burrow out of fish in order to avoid being eaten, but I’ve never seen photographs like these with a bird. I’m astonished the heron is still flying with such a large hole in it. However, I believe the bird will not survive such an ɪɴᴊᴜʀʏ.’