78 Turtles On Tarmac Cause Delays At NYC Airport


aa.jpgA runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport was shut down briefly Wednesday morning after at least 78 turtles emerged from a nearby bay and crawled onto the tarmac.

Grounds crews eventually rounded up the wayward reptiles and deposited them back in the brackish water farther from airport property, but not before the incident disrupted JFK’s flight schedule and contributed to delays that reached nearly 1 1/2 hours.

“Apparently, this is something the tower has experienced before,” said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters. “I guess it’s the season for spawning.”

The invasion began unfolding, slowly, at around 8:30 a.m., when an American Eagle flight crew reported seeing three turtles while taxiing out for departure. Before long, a chorus of pilots was radioing the tower to report turtles either on the end of a runway that juts out into the water, or approaching on the grass.

The FAA halted flights for about 12 minutes shortly before 9 a.m. while some of the turtles were cleared away, then quit using the runway entirely after getting new reports of “massive numbers” of turtles on the tarmac, Peters said.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesman John Kelly said airport crews gathered up the turtles in about 35 minutes.

He identified the turtles as Diamondback terrapins, a species common to Jamaica Bay, which surrounds the airport. The turtles appeared to be about 8 inches long and weigh 2 to 3 pounds each.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, the Diamondback Terrapin is native to coastal marshes, estuarine bays, lagoons, and creeks ranging from Cape Cod to the Gulf of Texas.

Jets hit turtles a few times each year at JFK, usually in the final days of June or earliest days in July, according to the FAA’s wildlife strike database. There have been no recent reports of the strikes causing any damage to an airplane.

(Source: WCBSTV)


  1. Oh, I absolutely love turtles. My children and ainiklach know that I love playing with whatever pets they might catch in the country. I love to hold frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes, snails, turtles or just about anything except pit bulls and rats. Those are the only animals I love to kill.

    But, I don’t want anyone to misunderstand. I do not want to the federal government to impose on anyone my personal rachmonus on Hashem’s creatures. People are entitled to squash and kill spiders, worms, mosquitoes, bees, snakes, slugs, or whatever their children and ainiklach catch in the country. Just don’t impose my love of animals on someone else in the form of regulation.

    But why they don’t just ride the airplanes over the turtles is beyond me. Wouldn’t killing a couple of hundred turtles prevent such incidents from happening in the future?

  2. Actually, the turtles were suppose to be there the same day as the geese. Both groups started off at the same time. The turtles are just arriving now, evidently.

  3. I vote for this line as the award winning line with regard to this article about turtles invading the tarmac: “The invasion began unfolding, slowly, at around 8:30 a.m.”

    I applaud the FAA for halting flights. It was a nice thing to do on many levels.

  4. this is pretty funny
    #4 (and the rest) the problem with squashing the turtles is the damage it would cause to the planes- and why cause tzaar baal chayim if it can be avoided (though I’m not sure that tzaar baal chayim was what the FAA had in mind when removing the “invasion”)