450-pound seal travels ashore to lay on Alaska airport runway

bearded seal on airport runway [Credit: Scott Babcock]

For most people, the airport is anything but relaxing, but apparently there’s a seal out the who begs to differ.

The 450-pound bearded seal was found on the runway of Alaska’s Utqiagvik Airport, lounging comfortably. Apparently it had crawled more than a mile over land just to hang out on the strip of pavement.

“We end up having a lot of wildlife. . . . We deal with musk oxen, lots of birds, caribou, [and] polar bears,” Meadow Bailey, an employee with the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOTPF) told Atlas Obscura. That said, Bailey still found the seal’s visit to be unique. “All of the staff that I’ve talked to, no one remembers seeing a seal on the runway [before].”

Posted by Scott Babcock on Monday, October 23, 2017

Despite the inconvenience of the blocked runway, most of the airport’s employees took the situation as an opportunity to try to come up with a good one-liner. Scott Babcock, who took the now-viral photo and video of the seal, captioned it simply “FOD,” which is airport jargon for Foreign Object Debris. DOTPF made their own post, warning aircraft operators of “low sealings.”

Animal control eventually picked up the seal, rolling it onto a sled so they could put it in a pickup truck. “They didn’t have to tranquilize it or anything like that,” said Bailey.

No flights were delayed due to the seal, and things at the airport quickly returned to normal, though the incident had clearly put everyone in a festive mood, with puns flying. As Bailey put it: “No flights will depart without a seal of approval.”

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