The all-inclusive nature of cruises appeals to vacation-goers across the country. Passengers are ferried from one beautiful destination to the next while being constantly fed and entertained. It’s an experience enticing to even wild birds. An owl from South Florida was recently able to take a two-week round-trip voyage to Mexico free of charge. However, a welcoming party ensured the stowaway’s cruise ended when the ship returned to Miami.
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According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), a burrowing owl found its way aboard Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas as the vessel headed out to sea for a two-week cruise. Symphony of the Seas is the second-largest cruise ship in the world, behind its sister ship Wonder of the Seas. The ship also has a maximum passenger capacity of 6,680 people. Passengers reported seeing the owl around the ship perched on exit signs and railings.
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When Symphony of the Seas returned to port in Miami, the ship’s environmental officer contacted Wildlife Rescue of Dade County, and a biologist was sent to retrieve the burrowing owl. There was only an hour between the passengers disembarking and new passengers coming aboard for the next cruise to Mexico. The biologist placed mist nets near the owl’s favored exit sign perches but failed to trap the bird. The owl flew up to a 10th-floor balcony to escape. As the crew made noise to distract the bird, the biologist snuck up to the owl and netted it.
FWC stated that the burrowing owl appeared to be in good health after two weeks at sea, but the bird was transported to South Florida Wildlife Center as a precautionary measure. Burrowing owls are listed as a threatened species in Florida and one of the state’s smallest birds. Thankfully, this owl is safe after getting to spend some time away from Florida.