PacSci-Doku: "Airport Hazard" Answer

By Dennis Schatz - Senior Advisor

The question in this edition is:

What closed down a runway at Kennedy International Airport?

The answer: Terrapins

Scroll down to see the solution.

In the summer of 2009 and then again in summer 2011, large numbers of turtles (diamondback terrapins) shared the same runway with planes at Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Such encounters can be dangerous to both planes and animals, so wildlife biologists have been working to understand why the turtles are attracted to the runway and how to keep them from wandering on to the tarmac.

The terrapins stay in the water except when they venture on to the land to lay eggs. 2009 and 2011 were years of larger than usual turtle populations, so the animals needed to venture farther to find a nesting spot. The solution is a black plastic fence that keeps the terrapins from getting to the runway, but yet allows them to find a good nesting spot. Learn more in this video about the terrapins at JFK airport.

Here is the solution:

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