cows affected by hurricane dorian

Affectionately known as "sea cows," the National Park Service reported learning about cows who were swept off to sea by Hurricane Dorian. A nothing-burger storm for most of the Carolinas, these cows living on Cedar Island experienced what some are calling a "mini tsunami." On September 6, this hurricane swept much of the wildlife off the island, including these "sea cows" and 28 wild horses that perished.

They were grazing on their home of Cedar Island when the giant storm hit generating 8 feet of surf.

The bovine was taken by the raging storm which forced them to swim for miles during the squall. They were presumed dead along with the horses and 14 additional cattle.

Perfect Storm

The hurricane swept water into coastal bays, creeks, and rivers before surging back toward the Outer Banks as the winds shifted, experts say.

The resulting “wall of water” hit not only Cedar Island, but caused devastating floods on Ocracoke Island and ripped up sections of the coastal highway, NC. 12, the Charlotte Observer reported in September.

The Sighting

The Cape Lookout National Seashore staff located one of the cows on a barrier island a month after the storm. That sighting was followed by two more grazing peaceably. A picture of the rangy-looking trio is now on Facebook.

Surprisingly, cows are recognized as adept swimmers. They are comfortable swimming a few hundred yards of open water, but in this storm, they had to endure swimming miles.

Cape Lookout Park spokesman BG Horvat noted that these cows were lucky they were not swept out into the Atlantic, where apparently the other 14 of the herd perished.

“I’ll say it’s about four miles across Core Sound,” Horvat told McClatchy news service. “The cows and all the horses were swept away with the water surging back. Who knows exactly, but the cows certainly have a gripping story to share,” said Horvat.


The National Park Service officials said they reported the cows are “very wild and very skittish” and are apt to run if approached by humans.

“We are now working on the best plan for them,” National Park Service officials said. “These are wild cattle and an owner has not been identified.”

Horvat speculated the cows would need to be sedated and returned to Cedar Island by boat.

While Cedar Island native Woody Hancock doesn’t own the cows, he is among those offering to return them to the island. Sadly, Hancock was the owner of  the 28 wild horses that perished in the hurricane.


hurricane dorian and cows

                  This is a group shot of the "sea cows" taken by Paula D.O'Malley. before the storm hit.


Primary Source: Charlotte Observer