Tampa cruise ship takes on a stowaway: injured pelican

Published Dec. 28, 2012

An wayward pelican from Maryland might have thought the seafood buffet on the Jewel of the Seas looked tasty. Or maybe it was just tired and needed to rest a bit as it landed on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

But then the bird injured itself when it flew into part of the ship's superstructure.

According to Royal Caribbean International, the pelican landed on deck 12 of the port-side of Jewel of the Seas shortly after 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The ship was returning to Tampa after calling at Cozumel, Mexico, on Tuesday. Royal Caribbean International staff transferred the injured bird to Hillsborough County Animal Services during a port call in Tampa on Thursday around 10 a.m. From there, it was taken to BluePearl Veterinary Partners specialty and emergency hospital in Tampa.

Doctors from BluePearl's avian and exotics team treated the bird for dehydration and determined the bird has a minor wing injury that will require rehabilitation.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey Bird Banding Laboratory, the bird was originally banded in Holland Island, Md., on Sept. 7, 2012, according to a news release sent by BluePearl about the incident.

The pelican was scheduled to be taken to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary today to receive rehabilitation treatment.