Earlier this summer, flights at JFK Airport were delayed due to the mating habits of terrapin turtles who cross the runway and to lay their eggs. Now the eggs are hatching, and the babies are adorable!
There are about 205 eggs across three sites, and high school volunteers also assisted in the effort by cutting openings on the enclosures for the turtles.
While the turtles have been laying eggs around the airport for years, this the first year that the Parks Department is actively monitoring and protecting the terrapins. Last year, Parks Department workers found terrapin nests in Idlewild Park but many of the eggs were either already hatched or eaten by raccoons.
Ellen Pehek, who is the principal research ecologist for the Parks Department’s Natural Resources Group, says the terrapins play an important role in Jamaica Bay, "They are part of the whole salt marsh ecosystem," Pehek told told amNewYork. "They eat mud snails and other snails that would otherwise overpopulate and consume the marsh grasses, which help buffer storm surges. They keep the marsh going."