Band of Turtles Takes Over JFK Tarmac, Delays Flights

By Allison Bond | July 9, 2009 11:16 am

Turtle!After you’ve shelled out a small fortune for a plane ticket, it’s always disappointing to find out your flight’s been delayed. But outgoing flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport weren’t running late on Wednesday morning due to weather. Instead, a horde of turtles came to shore from Jamaica Bay and took over the tarmac.

A group of 78 diamondback terrapin turtles, each weighing two to three pounds and measuring about nine inches long, spent about 35 minutes on the runway before they were removed via pickup truck. The turtles appear to be a group of females who are getting ready to lay eggs, and were looking for a place to nest en masse.

The resulting flight delays averaged about an hour and a half, according to the New York Times:

[The turtles] were originally spotted around 8:30 a.m. by a pilot, who radioed the tower.

“It’s not unprecedented, but it’s not at all common,” said [John Kelly, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey].

He said that the turtles were perhaps attracted to the sand along one side of the runway, which juts 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 whether the turtles pair off, or if the numbers indicated it was a group activity, he said.

It’s the latest massive swarm of animals to appear in odd places: Don’t forget about the bees on the plane and the ant colony that spans the globe. Maybe they’re all becoming zombies under the control of parasites.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Multibillion Ant “Megacolony” Set to Take Over the Globe
Discoblog: Bees on a Plane! 10,000 Bees Swarm an Airplane Wing in Massachusetts
Discoblog: Parasitic Plants Steal RNA, Spy on Their Hosts

Image: flickr / laogooli

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