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Monday, January 30, 2023

Turtle Strolling Across Airport Runway Halts Five Flights In Japan

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A turtle delayed scores of passengers and flight crews at a Japanese airport after taking its time crossing the tarmac.

The ambling reptile, weighing just over 4 pounds and measuring 1 foot in length, caused a five-hour delay at Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture in Tokyo on Friday after being sighted by a pilot just before his jet was supposed to take off.

According to local accounts, air traffic control ordered all planes to be halted while employees securely collected the turtle and swept the 4,000-meter-long (about 13,100-foot) runway for any further oddities, causing significant delays.

An All Nippon Airways Airbus A380 on its way to Okinawa, which happens to be painted with blue sea turtles as part of a recent campaign to promote the airline’s service to Hawaii, where the semi-aquatic creatures are loved and protected, was among the planes delayed by the errant terrapin.

The critter, identified as a red-eared slider, a species native to North America and considered invasive in Japan, may have crawled out of a nearby retention pond, located about 100 meters (328 feet) from the runway where it was discovered, according to Narita Airport officials and one animal expert.

They also stated that turtle sightings are uncommon in comparison to other stray animals such as cats and dogs.

The disruption turned out to be a good thing, the airline said in a statement.

“In Hawaii, sea turtles are seen as bringing good luck, and we hope this turtle that came to see the flight off signals a bright future,” they said.

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