Stowaway Owl Found on World's Largest Cruise Ship

Florida wildlife officials were called to the world's largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, to deal with a little stowaway – a burrowing owl.

The protected bird had landed itself on the mini-golf course on the ship's upper deck, and was discovered before the Oasis departed from Port Everglades, near Fort Lauderdale, on a weeklong Caribbean cruise.

A Royal Caribbean crew member called to report the owl's presence, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Lt. David Bingham of the FWC and a Broward County Sheriff's Office deputy boarded the ship and safely removed the pint-sized bird from the golf course. Bingham later released the owl in an open field.

Bingham says he has responded to some strange calls in his 25 years with the FWC, but never anything quite like an owl trying to hitch a ride on a 5,400-passenger cruise ship.

"I am very pleased the owl wasn't injured and that we could get it back to a normal habitat," Bingham says.

Florida burrowing owls as well as their burrows and eggs are protected by state law. Burrowing owls are also protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

They need to be in open, treeless areas where they can dig their burrow. says FWC biologist Ricardo Zambrano.

But the cruise ship owl was clearly a little confused.

"The artificial turf on the ship's golf course resembles the fields they use for nesting in urban areas; however, it was obviously not suitable habitat for this owl," Zambrano explains.

Photos, Florida Wildlife Commission
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