Skip to main content

3 Cows Swept Out to Sea by Hurricane Dorian Were Found Peacefully Grazing on an Island Miles Away

This wild cow was the first found roaming North Carolina's outer banks, having likely swam miles to get there.
This wild cow was the first found roaming North Carolina's outer banks, having likely swam miles to get there.
(Image: © NPS/Jeff West)

Three cows that were swept out to sea after Hurricane Dorian hit their home on Cedar Island in North Carolina were found months later … totally chilling out on another island.

It seems the cows swam for miles to reach the North Carolina's Outer Banks, a 56-mile (90 kilometers) stretch of barrier islands that's reachable only by boat or … breaststroke. Dorian hit Cedar Island in September as a Category 1 storm, generating a "mini tsunami," which was likely the result of storm surge that flooded the area and swept wildlife out to sea, according to the Charlotte Observer

Much of that wildlife, including 28 horses, are thought to have drowned. A month after the storm, officials with the National Park Service's Cape Lookout National Seashore found one misplaced cow on the barrier island. "But as she was wild and very skittish, no one could get near her," a representative of the National Seashore wrote on their Facebook page.

Related: Top 10 Most Incredible Animal Journeys

These cows aren't used to humans and run away when people get too close.

These cows aren't used to humans and run away when people get too close. (Image credit: NPS/Jeff West)

Soon after, the officials found two more cows. The three cows, which now seem to be happily grazing in their new home, are thought to be part of a group of 20 wild cattle that were known on Cedar Island as "sea cows." These sea cows roamed wild and free on a privately owned patch of land.

To get to the Outer Banks, they likely had to swim about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) and were pushed along by storm surge, B.G. Horvat, a spokesman for Cape Lookout told McClatchy news group. If they had been pushed any farther out to sea, they probably would have drifted far into the Atlantic and faced a grim fate.

But it's not uncommon to find a cow swimming to safety during a hurricane, according to the Washington Post. Apparently, cows can swim when they need to. "We are now working on the best plan for them," the representative for the National Seashore wrote on the Facebook post. The cows will likely have to be sedated and brought back to Cedar Island on a boat, Horvat said.

The cows, on the other hand, are not too pleased to have been discovered by humans. "The wild cattle that lived on Cedar Island were not used to seeing humans or having them approach them," according to a caption on a photo of one of the cows from the National Park Service. "This one took off running when the photographer tried to get closer."

Originally published on Live Science.

How It Works Banner

Want more science? Get a subscription of our sister publication "How It Works" magazine, for the latest amazing science news.  (Image credit: Future plc)