Seal removed from airport runway in northern Alaska This Oct. 23, 2017, photo provided by Scott Babcock shows a seal that wound up on the runway at the airport in Utiqiagvik, Alaska. (Scott Babcock via AP/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr)
Seal removed from airport runway in northern Alaska
Lexile

In Alaska, it's not uncommon for wildlife like polar bears to wander onto an airport's runway, but a lounging seal is far more unusual.

But that's what workers found at the airport in the nation's northernmost city. A seal estimated to weigh 450 pounds (204 kilograms) was removed from the runway at the airport at Utqiagvik (pronounced (oot-GHAR'-vik) by way of sled, KTVA reported.

A photo and video of the bearded seal lounging on the runway in the town formerly known as Barrow was shared by Scott Babcock on Facebook.

The state Department of Transportation got in on the fun by warning pilots of "low sealings" at the airport.

Meadow Bailey, the department's communications director, said Utqiagvik, an Arctic Ocean coastal community on Alaska's North Slope, experienced heavy storms. Staff found the seal while clearing the runway.

The department's staff members are not allowed to handle marine mammals, so the seal was removed by North Slope Animal Control.

The workers have seen birds, caribou, polar bears and musk ox on the runway, but the seal sighting was a first, Bailey said.

"Wildlife strikes to aircraft pose a significant safety hazard and cost the aviation industry hundreds of millions of dollars each year," Bailey said. "Birds make up over 90 percent of strikes in the US, while mammal strikes are rare."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What might have caused the seal to find its way onto the airport runway?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (3)
  • mollyn-cel
    11/14/2017 - 11:57 a.m.

    The town of Utqiagvik, where the airport is located and the seal was found, is a coastal community and experiences heavy storms. It is possible the seal could have been out of the water and pulled away from the sea by a powerful storm. Then the seal could have made its way onto the airport runway.

  • SofiaT-del
    11/14/2017 - 07:39 p.m.

    I was happy and sad when I read the title. Thank God it was removed. BUT THINK ABOUT HOW SCARY IT WAS. IT WAS OUT OF ITS NATURAL HABITAT. Thank God it is back to safety. I like Seals.

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