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Turtles Invade JFK Runway, Delay Flights

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

About 150 turtles crawled onto the tarmac at Kennedy Airport Wednesday morning in search of beaches on which to lay their eggs causing dozens of flights to be delayed.

The diamondback terrapin turtles began their slow-moving march across the tarmac around 6:45 a.m. and quickly became so numerous that controllers were forced to move departing flights to another runway, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Biologist Roger Wood said it's nesting season for the turtles, and the slight elevation of the airport offered protection for their eggs.

"What would make it attractive was it was next to a salt marsh," Wood said, "and the surface that the runway's on are all above high tide, so it was slightly elevated above the marshes where the terrapins live, and they have to dig their nest in areas that won't get flooded."

Kennedy Airport is next to Jamaica Bay, which is home to many terrapin turtles.

The FAA said flight delays averaged about 30 minutes.

With the Associated Press

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Comments [1]

Russell Burke

My favorite radio station in the world does a story on the species I have been studying since 1998 (I am a college professor/wildlife biologist) in JB, the very place I study terrapins, and they call a guy from southern NJ for comments? RWood is a great guy but I am in your backyard and would come right up in a google search!
How about you make it up to me by coming out a doing a story about the citizen science project going on in NYC?

Jun. 29 2011 07:21 PM

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