Yertles! Turtles stall traffic at JFK
For many years, my brother-in-law Rick had a turtle. I believe that she originally came from Woolworth’s. And given how long she lasted, Sluggo’s life was truly a case of “I met my million dollar baby at the five-and-ten cent store.”
Sluggo, so named years before a vet identified her as a she*, was a red-eared slider. She led a life that was uneventful and (29 years) long, if not overly productive and exciting, although she was particularly adept at snapping at your finger if you pressed it up against the glass side of her glass habitat.
While one may have assumed that Sluggo was content, there was one point where she made her grand escape.
She survived, and was rewarded with a larger and grander tank, where she ended out her days, until felled by kidney disease and pneumonia.
I thought of Sluggo when I read on Boston.com about the turtles that wreaked all sorts of havoc at JFK the other day.
About 150 turtles crawled onto the tarmac at New York’s JFK airport yesterday in search of beaches to lay their eggs, delaying dozens of flights, aviation authorities said.
The slow-motion stampede began about 6:45 a.m., 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.
I’m sure I would have been a bit annoyed if I had been one of the folks sitting on the runway waiting for the “all (turtle) clear” to sound. One turtle’s New York minute no doubt drags like a businessman on JetBlue’s North Dakota hour. I’m sure I would have been sitting there wishing that the area was the spawning ground for hares, rather than tortoises. That said, there’s something rather delightful about harried, jet-age travelers being grounded, however temporarily, by a bunch of turtles doing what turtles do.
Once pilots began reporting turtle sightings, Port Authority and US Agriculture Department folks stepped in and began scooping turtles up and ferrying the mama turtles where they needed to go.
“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 main concern is for the turtles, Marsico said. He said crews were giving the turtles rides on pickup trucks to the nesting beaches.
Ceding to Mother Nature.
Although the Big Kahuna of climate change is the looming disaster that we’re going to have to do something about, or cede to, most of the ceding of late seems to have been on Mother Nature’s part.
So many species are extinct or on the threatened list. (Personally, I do not want to live in a world without polar bears.) We’re fracking the bejesus out of the ground beneath our feet, which quite scarily puts me in mind of pumping up the basketball beyond where it needs or wants to go. (Kaboom?) And while it might not be too bad if New England’s climate became more like that of North Carolina, it might not be quite so pleasant if the average daily summer temp in Dallas rises to 120 degrees.
So what’s not to like about one small instance of our ceding to Mother N?
As they have since (I’m guessing) well before some canny Dutchman purchased Manhattan for $24 worth of blue beads, the diamondback terrapins – all 9 inches, 3 pounds of them – are making their way to their nesting grounds. And sitting thousands of New Yorkers on the runway while they do so.
I love it!
And it’s given me new insight into Sluggo’s escape attempt. Was she looking for adventure, for love, for her fellow turtles? Or was she just bored?
Anyway, go turtles!
I hope you make a lot of little turtle babies, and have a safe trip back across the runway.
*In fact, I hadn’t realized that Sluggo was a female until I called my sister Kath to find out how old Sluggo was when he/she died.