Invading turtles bring JFK to standstill

July 9, 2009

Flights at JFK airport, New York, were brought to a standstill by an invasion of turtles, the Associated Press reports.

The leisurely incursion began at 0830 EDT when an American Eagle pilot reported three turtles at the end of a runway, causing the tower to suspend flghts for 12 minutes while ground staff herded the reptiles to safety.

Flights were eventually diverted to an alternate strip as the turtles’ numbers gradually swelled to a “massive” 78.

FAA spokesman Jim Peters told AP: “Apparently, this is something the tower has experienced before. I guess it’s the season for spawning.”

The chelonian encroachment comes six months after geese downed a US Airways jet leaving nearby La Guardia airport. Famously, the pilot successfully ditched in the Hudson with no loss of life.

Shortly thereafter, New Scientists’s Feedback column expressed disbelief that the FAA’s Wildlife Strike Database featured 80 turtle strikes.

Now we know why.