Turtles Take Over JFK

Turtles Take Over JFK

Airlines experience delays due to turtles

 

On Wednesday, a planeful of people headed for the Dominican Republic had to sit and wait on the runway for a special interference to pass. I kind of wish I had been on that plane just so I could say, "sorry I was delayed. There were turtles." I can only imagine the tone of the air traffic control worker when he radioed in to the American Airlines pilot and asked: "There's a report of a turtle on the runway. Do you want to have it removed first?"

The first turtle arrived at 6:45 am, slowly lumbering its way across Runway 4. She was soon followed by over a hundred of her peers. The diamondback terrapin turtles had decided to take an unusual route to the nearby Jamaica Bay wildlife reserve. The turtle parade is not uncommon, just not usually seen weaving between commercial jets in such high numbers--although a runway was similarly shut down in 2009 due to turtle interference. The lady turtles were on a mass migration to meet up with their gentleman callers at the wildlife reserve and start making some turtle babies. All 150 of them chose JFK as the best possible route for their journey. If a turtle's headed for her mate, not even an international airport will stand in her way. 

Port Authority staff and the US Department of Agriculture soon arrived to help them along safely to the other side of the runway, dipping in and picking up turtles between take-offs and landings. Numerous flights were delayed. Twitter was abuzz. Someone naturally started an account just for the turtles. It had 3,000 followers by the end of the day. It's good to know that while airport delays are typically infuriating, they're hilarious when caused by adorable, slow-moving reptiles en route to their mating grounds. More airlines should use animals as an excuse for delays just to calm people down. "Sorry folks, we're experiencing delays getting off the ground because there are at least fifty three-toed sloths crawling across the runway." Suddenly everybody would be happy.