Turtles In Heat Shut Down J.F.K. Runway

78 turtles ambled out of Jamaica Bay on Wednesday to make sweet, sweet love all over one New York City’s busiest runways. It took Port Authority workers 35 minutes to shut down the impromptu nightclub, but the damage was done and travelers at J.F.K. experienced delays of up to an hour and a half.

The 78 diamondback terrapins were picked up, put into a pickup truck and removed from the runway, said John Kelly, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. They 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,” he said.

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.

We might be more forgiving of airport delays if they all came a similarly cute and cuddly story.

Turtle Brigade Delays Flights at J.F.K. [The New York Times]
(Photo: dooleymtv)


Edit Your Comment

  1. takes_so_little says:

    I can’t wait to see all the talk show interviews with the heroic pilot who landed safely in a long, sticky streak of turtle jizz.

  2. JoeDirt says:

    People knew there was a problem when they seen unusually fast movement on the tarmac.

  3. BK88 says:

    Don’t worry, with NexGen and satellite surveillance, this won’t cause delays. According to Robert Poole at the Heritage Foundation (heritage.org), runways are not the limiting factor at airports. Its those silly overpaid union controllers that cause delays with their “WWII” technology.

    End Sarcasm
    Really it should be called, “Airline over-scheduling delays.” Only one airplane can be actively using the runway at one time. So if there are more than 5 air carrier planes waiting, its a airline scheduling problem.

    Disclosure: I am an air traffic controller.

    • takes_so_little says:

      @BK88: Thanks, now I have the in-depth analysis and commentary I’m always looking for in my turtle-fucking stories.

    • kenboy says:

      @BK88: And the toll collectors’ union hates EZ-Pass. What else is new?

      The report you’re talking about seems pretty reasonable to me so far (I started skimming after the first half or so) — the bit that seems to be lacking is the consideration of the alternative. I would say either the system has to massively increase capacity (which is what the author is saying, which requires more automation), or else the number of flights has to be drastically reduced, probably my making it very expensive for regional jets to use major airports. You’d no longer be able to fly directly between minor cities, and I don’t know that there’d be a lot of consumer support for that proposal.

      If you read the report with a less (understandably) biased view, it’s not blaming union controllers in the same way one might blame union painters for the high cost of new construction in New York City — it’s saying human controllers can only perform so many operations per unit of time, and increasing system capacity is going to require a non-human solution.

    • 3DaysTillTheState_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @BK88: Perhaps for you wimps in NYC. With your vacuum tubes. But in NJ, at EWR, we got a shiny new tower. So you keep building new terminals, and delaying flights for turtles. Around here, unless they are mutant, pre-adult, and skilled in martial arts, we don’t delay planes for them.

      • silver-bolt says:

        @3DaysTillTheState_GitEmSteveDave: First +1.

        Second. EWR needs to be sounded out. It is pronounced like Eeyore from Winnih the Pooh.

        Third, they built the new tower like 3 foot ball fields away, with the terminals between it and the runways. It reduced visibility and efficiency that it gained from new equipment. Blah.

    • jamar0303 says:

      @BK88: Question- then wouldn’t the solution be to have more runways? For example, Tokyo’s regional airport is about to have as many runways as JFK. Regional meaning “Japan, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Seoul”. So for all the destinations and airlines JFK serves, shouldn’t they have more runways, or failing that, push out some of its international service to LaGuardia, Islip, or something (assuming that no rational person here wants to touch Newark)?

      • BK88 says:

        @jamar0303: @jamar0303: Answer – yes, the solution is more runways. There are three main problems with building more runways
        1. A little thing called wake turbulence. (closely space runways < 2500 ft apart)
        2. NIMBYS
        3. Lots – o – Money

      • KMan13 still wants a Pontiac G8 says:

        LGA and islip aren’t big enough to handle international planes – they’re all larger than the runways can handle.

  4. Jupichan says:

    I guess the turtles didn’t make it to Kerplopitgoes Island. :/

  5. Jon Bothe says:

    Nothing says erotic like an orgy on a runway.

  6. militarydave says:

    we can learn a lot from turtles. apparently they take their time when getting it on.

    as for me…. i’m off to the sand to “do the turtle”.



  7. PittDragon says:

    I bet the Slowskys from those annoying Comcast ads were there to. So thats what they do when they’re not filming :p.

  8. mrsultana can't get a password to work says:

    “It is unclear whether the turtles pair off, or if the numbers indicated it was a group activity”
    Oh, the religious nutjobs of the country are going to have a field day with this one! The scroll at the bottom of Fox News is going to say, “Liberals allow sinful orgy to disrupt Homeland Security. Terrorists get free pass on ‘one-male-one-female’ standard all Americans support.”

  9. RedwoodFlyer says:

    @BK88: I’m usually not the biggest fan of unions… but I certainly agree with you here. NextGen/ADS-B will certainly help with direct routing, continuous descent, and such. However, it will do NOTHING to overcome the fact that only one aircraft can land on a runway at a time… nor will it bend the laws of physics and alleviated wake turbulence!

    The amount of money involved with contracts for redoing our ATC equipment is huge… I’m sure we can expect the standards of ethics to follow accordingly!

  10. I love the Power Glove. It's so bad. says:

    Turtles Gone Wild!

  11. P_Smith says:

    We can’t let our airplanes be delayed or the terrapins win!

  12. fanboy.took.my.star says:

    thats one slow orgy…

  13. Anonymous says:

    Most people don’t realize that JFK airport adjoins a huge wildlife refuge, yes located right in New York City.

    Map here, click on map:

  14. dbshaw says:

    This was caused by the clearing out of the bird population around the runways to prevent accidents. The birds ate turtle eggs. No birds, more turtles, turtle orgy.

  15. slickdealer says:

    I guess they all joined the ‘Mile 0 Club’

  16. Robobot says:

    As any of my fellow Terps can testify, this sort of behavior is actually very typical of your average New Jersey terrapin.

  17. AT203 says:

    I’m curious how turtle sex on the runway is handled by the contract for carriage…

  18. Jesse in Japan says:

    F*#$ing turtles!

  19. Joe Girardi says:

    Look at all those slutty turtles with the tramp stamps , i hope they wore protection you can get salmonella from turtles u know.

  20. oneandone says:

    PHL had to make allowances for the special turtle population they have there (red-bellied turtles). [www.phl.org]

    I think they ended up building large ‘turtle passages’ so they could travel under the runways. Maybe turtles like airports? Or we like to build airports where turtles are?