Passengers at New York’s JFK airport were shell-shocked yesterday when flights were delayed… because of turtles.
Chaos ensued when authorities spotted around 150 diamondback terrapin turtles scuttling across the runway.
The scaly intruders were on the dangerous journey across America’s biggest airport to find a sandy beach to lay their eggs. They were heading for Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, which borders JFK.
When pilots saw the terrapins, which measure between 5-7 inches long, they halted their planes and the runway was temporarily shut down.
Staff then rushed onto the tarmac, nabbed the turtles and helped them on their way. Some flights were re-routed to other runways.
Apparently the delays were not long – it took between 15 minutes and an hour to move them on – depending on which source you believe.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told the New York Post: “We may have had a few delays, but nothing significant”.
The march of the turtles is an annual event at the airport. Ron Marsico, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said: "It happens every year at about this time. It's the great migration, and this is the peak of the season.”
The disruption happened because the runway trod by the critters is not usually used at this time of year because of wind shifts.