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Turtles on runway delay flights at JFK

A group of turtles brought everything to a screeching halt on a primary runway at JFK before being relocated. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

Flights were temporarily halted at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport on Wednesday morning after about 150 turtles ambled onto a runway.

JetBlue first tweeted news of the slowdown: "JFK is experiencing delays as the airport clears turtles off the runway." 

Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico said flights were delayed only about 15 minutes.


A photo provided by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Wednesday shows turtles captured for relocation at New York's JFK airport.

“We had about 150 turtles coming out of the bay this morning," said Marsico. "They crossed the runway to a sandy beach area to lay their eggs."

The diamondback terrapin turtles were gathered on runway 4L, plus nearby taxiways, starting at about 6:45 a.m., NBC affiliate WNBC-TV in New York reports.

The turtle migration occurs annually at the airport, which is located near Jamaica Bay. The turtles typically head out of the bay to nest on the beach each summer. Marisco added that "staff has been out there since quarter to 7 this morning relocating them.”

Allison Steinberg, a JetBlue spokeswoman, said the airline saw no significant delays. "All traffic was moved onto a different departure runway and we are seeing very little impact now.

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Msnbc.com senior writer Elizabeth Chuck and NBC affiliate WNBC-TV in New York contributed to this report. Joy Jernigan is a senior travel editor for msnbc.com. Follow her on Twitter.