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Turtles invade airport in New York

New York, June 29 (AP): About 150 turtles crawled onto the tarmac at New York’s Kennedy airport today in search of beaches to lay their eggs, delaying dozens of flights, aviation authorities said.

The slow-motion stampede began at about 1045GMT, and within three hours there were so many turtles on Runway 4L and nearby taxiways that controllers were forced to move departing flights to another runway. “We ceded to Mother Nature,” said Ron Marsico, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the airport.

The migration of diamondback terrapin turtles happens every year at John F. Kennedy International Airport, which is built on the edge of Jamaica Bay and a federally protected park. In late June or early July the animals heave themselves out of the bay and head towards a beach to lay their eggs.

Several pilots, some of them stifling chuckles, began reporting turtles on Runway 4L just as the morning rush hour was beginning at JFK, according to a radio recording. “Be advised 10 meters into the takeoff roll, left side of the centreline, there’s another turtle,” called the pilot of American Airlines Flight 1009, a Boeing 767 that had just taken off bound for the Dominican Republic.

“There’s another one on the runway?” asked the controller. “Uh, well he WAS there,” the pilot said.

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