Travelers were delayed at John F. Kennedy Airport Wednesday morning, June 29, after about 100 turtles ambled onto a runway and blocked air traffic from moving.
Or, as The New York Post put it:
Sex-crazed turtles shut down a runway at Kennedy Airport this morning as they crawled across the tarmac heading for their seasonal breeding grounds.
Runway 4L was shut down starting about 9:30 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Port Authority workers were still working an hour later to move the slowpokes to safer ground.
“We may have a few delays, but nothing significant,” said FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac.
“Running over turtles is not healthy for them nor is it good for our tires,” the airline (Jet Blue) said.
Running over turtles with a 747 is not healthy for them? A slight understatement perhaps?
There was no immediate word on what type of turtles they were, but if they were snapping turtles, perhaps they felt they had official clearance — the snapping turtle was named the New York state reptile in 2006.
Turtle Invasion An Annual Event
It turns out that the turtle invasion is pretty much an annual event at Kennedy. They’re in the middle of their spawning season, when the females crawl out of Jamaica Bay onto the runway in search of higher ground to lay their eggs. With JFK airport almost totally surrounded by water, the turtle invasion is perhaps not so surprising.
In July 2009, a runway at JFK was shut down briefly after at least 78 turtles emerged from nearby Jamaica Bay and crawled onto the tarmac.
Ground crews eventually rounded up the reptiles and deposited them back in the water, but not before the incident disrupted JFK’s flight schedule and contributed to delays that reached nearly two hours.
A gentle reminder that nature is all around us, even when we try to cover it over with cement and concrete?
Photo Credit: CARIBOUB via Creative Commons