The rare burrowing owl had not just chosen any cruise ship; it was on the largest one, the Oasis of the Seas. The vessel was preparing to leave Port Everglades for a seven-day cruise of the Caribbean when the bird was spotted near the synthetic grass on the upper deck.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials were called. They captured the owl with a net and released it inland.
"Burrowing owls need to be in open, treeless areas where they can dig their burrow," BBC News
quoted FWC biologist Ricardo Zambrano,” as saying.
"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."
FWC Lt David Bingham, who caught the owl, said that he had never seen anything like this during his 25 years with the agency.
"I am very pleased the owl wasn't injured and that we could get it back to a normal habitat,” he added.
Burrowing owls are classed as a species of special concern. They are about 22 centimetres (9 inches) tall as adults, and are often active during the day. They will build nests in burrows vacated by small mammals, and can make a sound resembling a rattlesnake hiss to discourage predators.