How can something that weighs two or three pounds and measures eight to ten inches screw up one of the countries busiest airports? When 78 of them — in this case, the them are diamond terrapins — go exploring for new breeding grounds and decide that a runway might be a good spot.
The herd of amorous diamond terrapins left Jamaica Bay and headed onto one of New York’s JFK airport runways. A pilot reported seeing the slow-moving bunch and Port Authority responded immediately to keep both turtles and planes safe.
At 8:30 in the morning, Port Authority workers managed to collect all the mate-seeking turtles within a half-hour — however, by that time flights were stacked up, both coming and going, which delayed flights up to 90 minutes.
Pilots explained the situation to their waiting passengers. “Everybody had a good attitude considering it was turtles going off to hatch more turtles,” reported Port Authority spokesman John Kelly.
Once the turtles were safely returned to Jamaica Bay, via the back of Port Authority pickup truck, the airport resumed normal operation.