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
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In Alaska, it's not strange for wildlife like polar bears to wander onto an airport's runway. But a lounging seal is far stranger.

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

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

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

Meadow Bailey is the department's communications director. She said Utqiagvik experienced heavy storms. It is an Arctic Ocean coastal community on Alaska's North Slope. 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 and caribou. They have seen polar bears and musk ox. These have all been 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 (44)
  • Adisonj-eic
    11/16/2017 - 11:23 a.m.

    That's very strange that a seal could move that far to be on a airplane runway even when its 450 pounds. I wonder how they got him out of the way that must have been really hard job.

  • Haylieh-eic
    11/16/2017 - 11:31 a.m.

    i think the seal is very cute but why did it try running away.

  • Brysonh-eic
    11/16/2017 - 11:35 a.m.

    That would be scary for me because would if I was in the plane and we would have to miss the seal and then the plane would jerk and stuff would start flying around the plane, but if they did run over the seal the tires might go flat so the plane would go of the runway and most in likely they would crash and people would get injured more than if they just would jerk the plane, but if I were the seal I would have tried to at least get closer to the edge of the runway so if a plane did come in it would not have to jerk so badly. I think that is scary, but if I was the North Slope Animal Control I personally wouldn't go onto the runway just in case if a plane did come in and it couldn't go anywhere else because it was out of gas. I would rather have a Polar Bear on the runway so it could actually move out of the way. The passage says that "We see Polar Bears, Caribou, Birds, and Musk ox, but not seal." So you can see that they have never had to take a seal of a runway, so they might not have that much training. There might have been a storm that forced the water higher and the seal might have went up there but the water receded and the seal got stuck.

  • HaileyB-eic
    11/16/2017 - 01:23 p.m.

    I think it is very strange that a seal of all animals was on the runway. Especially since it was Alaska. That must have been a long way for the little seal. I hope it got returned to it's home.

  • Nickb-eic
    11/16/2017 - 02:48 p.m.

    The workers have seen birds and caribou. They have seen polar bears and musk ox.

  • Emoryc-eic
    11/16/2017 - 02:57 p.m.

    That is so dangerous and adorable at the same time!I wonder how long it took for them to move the seal.

  • Emmanuelj-eic
    11/16/2017 - 03:01 p.m.

    I like this story. This is one of the oddest things I have herd.

  • Hadleye-eic
    11/16/2017 - 03:23 p.m.

    How do those poor animals keep getting on that runway?
    When the animal control gets them do they release them?
    I hope they are OK.

  • Isaacs-smi
    11/27/2017 - 12:34 p.m.

    I find it vary strange...

  • JalenM-par1
    12/01/2017 - 09:59 a.m.

    SO CUTE!!! It's really cool that a seal would be smart enough to make it that far.

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