Turtles Slow JFK To A Crawl

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The normal fast pace of the morning push at JFK slowed to a crawl Wednesday morning as 150 love-struck turtles turned runways into expressways (in turtle terms) to love. About 6:45 a.m. pilots of outbound aircraft reported the reptilian jaywalkers (MP3), who clearly hadn't heard the tower's takeoff clearances. The controller, who kept his good humor through the episode, alternated between receiving wildlife reports, dispatching ground personnel and issuing takeoff clearances in between turtle rescues. The turtles were just doing what comes naturally and apparently the big noisy things in their way weren't going to stop them.

JFK is on Jamaica Bay and June and July is mating season for the local terrapin residents. In all, about 150 randy reptiles were rounded up and sent on their honeymoons in the more hospitable ocean-front areas of the airport. It's not clear if any turtles paid the ultimate price for their ill-timed runway dashes but flights were delayed up to 30 minutes.