Turtles temporarily shut down runway at JFK airport

The parade of slow-moving diamondback terrapins began about 6:45 a.m. on Wednesday. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said there were so many turtles on one runway and nearby taxiways that air controllers were forced to move departing flights to another runway.

"We ceded to Mother Nature," said Ron Marsico, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the JFK airport, which is surrounded by a bay and wetland areas.

The Federal Aviation Authority said flight delays were averaging about 30 minutes.
"The diamondback terrapins were trying to get to an ideal location to lay their eggs. That's a sandy area that happens to be across Runway 4," Carol Bannerman of the US Department of Agriculture said.

The turtles were primarily female, and the fertilisation of their eggs occurs in the water, she said.

"This happens every year," Marsico said."I guess some years there is more turtle activity," CNN quoted Marsico as saying.

This is not the first time turtles have invaded the runways at JFK. Seventy-eight turtles emerged one day in 2009, according to Marsico.

People began tweeting about the turtles soon after the news broke. Within 8 hours,
"Oh @JFKTurtles, we could never stay mad at you ... Glad you made it to your honey moon spot safe."

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