Turtle Brigade Delays Flights at J.F.K.


turtleDozens of turtles, presumably on a mating spree, shut down a runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport this morning for 35 minutes, causing an a hour-and-a-half delay for flights. The 78 diamond back terrapins were picked up, put into a pick up truck, and removed from the runway, said John Kelly, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. They were originally spotted by a pilot around 8:30 a.m., who radioed the tower.

“It’s not unprecedented, but it’s not at all common,” he said.

He said that the turtles were perhaps attracted to the sand along one side of the runway, which juts out into the water. “They tend to look for sand while they are mating,” he said. “Presumably all these turtles were feeling amorous.” It is unclear if the turtles pair off, or if the numbers indicated it is a group activity, he said.

There has been a surprising amount of half-shell news in the last year around the city. A two-headed one was stolen in Brooklyn last August. And a 60-pound tortoise showed up in the Bronx in April.

These turtles were about 8 to 10 inches long and weighed between 2 to 3 pounds. Mr. Kelly volunteered a number of turtle puns, saying the morning phenomenon was perhaps an ultimate example of “slow sweet love.”

{NY Times/Matzav.com Newscenter}