For years turtles have been slowly making their way across JFK Airport's runways, causing adorable delays... albeit, frustrating ones.
The Diamondback Terrapin turtles have a nearby natural habitat, Jamaica Bay, and the runways have always been a favorite mating spot of theirs. But now the Port Authority is rolling out a barrier that will, hopefully, keep them at bay. According to Newsday, "along a peninsula that juts into Jamaica Bay, 4,000 feet of plastic tubing, 8 inches in diameter, is being laid—a project due to be completed later this summer." The turtle, you know being turtles, won't be able to scale the short barrier, and they have enough safe, periphery nesting places that this should work out well for everyone... and it's much more humane than the Canadian geese solution. As long as no one turns them into soup, and no raccoons get at their eggs.
In 2011, Science reported on the turtles when their numbers were on the decline: "The cause is unclear, but rising ocean levels and nitrogen dumped from the New York City sewer system are likely culprits. Another problem is that the terrapin population is very old—and not being replaced. The turtles on the runway [today] could still be the same individuals that were reported lazing on runways when the airport first opened in the 1940s. 'I think of them like the walking dead. There are practically no youngsters,' says Russell Burke [of Hofstra University]. The main reason for this: urban raccoons, which also snap up 90% to 100% of the eggs laid by Jamaica Bay terrapins during breeding season."
This week, the Port Authority's wildlife biologist was, Laura Francoeur, was shown marking and releasing turtles into safe habitats. Click through for a look.