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JFK’s Runway 4 turtle-y closed… For 15 minutes

New York’s JFK Airport had to close a runway yesterday for 15 minutes – but not because of the weather, technical faults or even striking staff – a group of migrating turtles crossing the runway were to blame.

Around 150 diamondback turtles, mainly females, were spotted crossing the tarmac of Runway 4 in order to lay their eggs at the nearby Jamaica Bay wildlife reserve for fertilisation by male diamondbacks.

The first few turtles were spotted at around 6:45AM local time prompting air traffic control to contact an American Airlines flight due to land, asking them “There’s a report of a turtle on the runway. Do you want to have it removed first?” US Port Authority and US Department of Agriculture staff were quickly deployed to help the group of turtles complete their journey a little more quickly, avoiding further delays thanks to their slow walking pace.

Holidaymakers – amused and bemused – took to social networking site Twitter to comment on the situation. One Twitter user even created an account for the turtles “@jfkturtles”, and began posting humorous updates from the perspective of the reptilian critters. By the end of yesterday, the account had over 3,000 followers.

Airline Jet Blue saw the funny side of it all, posting a reply from their own Twitter account: “Oh @JFKTurtles, we could never stay mad at you … Glad you made it to your honeymoon spot safe.”