Turtles cause minor shell at JFK

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The turtles that lined up on a JFK runway were safely transported in a pickup truck. Photo courtesy Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

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By Ivan Pereira
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 4:09 PM

A bale of turtles invaded the runways at John F. Kennedy International Airport Wednesday morning, but the slow-moving reptiles proved to be no match for Port Authority and animal control agents, who intervened so that fliers would not be delayed, the PA said.

More than 150 diamondback terrapin turtles made their way from Jamaica Bay to runway 4L starting around 6:45 a.m. and were all over the tarmac by the middle of the morning, PA spokesman Ron Marsico said.

The turtles lay their eggs in a sandy beach area on the opposite side of the runway and Wednesday was the day the future parents decided to make their trek to the beach beyond.

“This usually happens once a year,” Marsico said.

PA officers and animal control experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture rounded up the turtles, put them in the back of pickup trucks and transported them safely to the beach area, the spokesman said.

There were no serious flight delays caused by the migrating bale, according to Marsico, but that did not stop some of the airlines from poking fun at the situation on Twitter.

JetBlue used the hashtag “#cantmakethisup” following its tweet, “JFK is experiencing delays as the airport clears turtles off the runway,” which was posted around 10 a.m.

Later an account was set up with the profile name JFKTurtles, similar to the one that was “created” by the fugitive Bronx zoo cobra.

The Twitter description gives a tongue-in-cheek warning to the borough’s other airport: “The Port Authority can’t contain us. Watch out La Guardia (sic).”

“We go straight to the runway because it takes 5 hours to get out of our shells for the TSA,” they tweeted around noon.

As of 3:30 p.m., the account had more than 1,600 followers.

Nearly two years ago, 78 diamondback terrapins shut down the same runway as they migrated to the beach. In that instance, several planes had to be diverted to avoid the reptiles, but two were killed on the runway.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 at 7:58 pm and is filed under Breaking News, Feature, Fun, Jamaica Bay, TimesLedger, Web Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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