Honeymooning Turtles Block Runway At JFK
11:03am 30th June 2011
(Updated 12:03am 1st July 2011)
Flights have been held up at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York by a procession of turtles crossing the runway.
Several pilots began reporting diamondback terrapins on Runway 4L just as the morning rush hour was beginning at JFK, according to a radio recording posted on LiveATC.net.
"Be advised 30ft into the takeoff roll, left side of the centre line, there's another turtle," called the pilot of American Airlines Flight 1009.
"There's another one on the runway?" asked the controller.
"Uh, well he was there," the pilot said as the big airliner climbed into the air.
American 663, a Boeing 737 headed to Fort Lauderdale, found its way to runway 4L blocked by three of the roving reptiles.
Airport staff helped clear the creatures, giving them a ride via pickup truck to their beaches.
The turtles were trying to get to an ideal location to lay their eggs and chose to cross Runway 4 as JFK is surrounded by a bay and wetland areas
Flights were delayed for around 30 minutes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
"We are trying to help wildlife out a bit here," said Ron Marsico, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
"We built on the area where they were nesting for generations, so we feel incumbent to help them along the way."
People began tweeting about the turtles soon after the news broke.
Within eight hours, @JFKTurtles had almost 3,000 followers on Twitter, even from airline accounts like Jet Blue who said: "Oh @JFKTurtles, we could never stay mad at you...
"Glad you made it to your honeymoon spot safe."
It is not the first time turtles have invaded the runways at JFK.
Seventy-eight turtles emerged one day in 2009, according to Mr Marsico.