JFK Airport Runway Shut Down Briefly By Turtles

JFK Airport runway 13R Photo: Shimon Gifter

Queens,NY Some flights at Kennedy Airport were briefly delayed by turtles on Thursday July 6th.

About 40 diamondback terrapins crawled out of Jamaica Bay and onto the airfield at about 4:45 p.m. Friday, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said.

Authority spokeswoman Cheryl Albiez told the Daily News that some planes “were briefly stuck in queue” while the turtles were being rounded up.

The turtles’ annual migration takes place from May to mid-July. JFK airport is situated Off Jamaica bay.

Port Authority wildlife specialists collect the animals that wander too close to the runway and release them to safer areas.

 Some facts about the Diamondback Terrapin turtles:
A diamondback terrapin in the grassDiamondback terrapin – Malaclemys terrapin
(Photo:Michael Unold)
  • The diamondback terrapin is the only turtle species in North America that lives in brackish water. They come ashore only to nest.
  • Each plate of the shell is made up of keratin (like our fingernails!) and is unique to that turtle — just like a human fingerprint.
  • The gender of a turtle is influenced by temperature. Generally, a cooler nest produces males, and a warmer nest produces females.
  • Females scoop out a six inch deep hole for their 4-15 eggs with their hind webbed feet and then cover them without looking back!
  • In the late 1800s to early 1900s turtle soup was a popular delicacy. Overharvesting greatly reduced populations. Since 1990, the harvest of terrapins has been regulated in New York. Yet they continue to struggle with predation, pollution and development of habitat, and drowning in commercial and recreational crab pots.

From late May until early July check on the beaches for nesting females that retreat from the water to lay their eggs.
If spotted, make sure to keep some distance between you and the turtle, because if disturbed the turtle will abandon her nest.



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