Right before World Turtle Day, on May 23, a brave turtle delayed a flight at Reagan Airport so he could make his way slowly across the tarmac.Catching a flight can be a hectic and stressful process. There are so many things that could go wrong between forgetting your passport, getting caught in a long security line and emergency repairs to your plane. One thing most passengers probably aren't prepared for is a turtle hanging out on the tarmac in the way of take-off. Passengers on a United Express flight from Reagan Airport to Chicago sat through a delay while a turtle slowly made his way across the tarmac on May 21. The irony was probably not lost on them that one of the slowest animals was causing their delay. WUSA9 got ahold of the audio from the air traffic control tower, and it is truly a gem: “We got a turtle crawling across the runway.” “Is it eastbound or westbound?” “It’s traveling southwest.” *5 minutes later* “Is that turtle still there?” “It’s still on the pavement, but it’s off to the left side.” Ten minutes after that, the turtle finally made it safely to grass, and the flight took off. Reagan Airport jokingly labeled the incident "turtlegate" on Twitter. [caption id="attachment_9512" align="aligncenter" width="678"] Courtesy of Reagan Airport[/caption]
Perhaps it should not be surprising that an incident such as this occurred. U.S Fish & Wildlife Service notes that turtles are on the move this time of year (April-October). Thankfully, Reagan Airport humanely handled the situation by allowing the turtle to cross the tarmac before take-off. You too can protect turtles by keeping an eye out for them when driving on the roads. If you do see a turtle on the road, the Turtle Rescue League recommends you safely help the turtle cross the road. First, you should determine if the turtle is injured. If it is, you should take it to a veterinarian's office or wildlife center. If it's not, you can simply pick up the turtle and help them reach the other side of the road. Turtle Rescue League warns never to turn the turtle around and always make sure to put the turtle in the direction it was heading. If you are unsure of the type of turtle or think it is a snapping turtle, you can gently nudge it with a blunt object or just watch it and make sure he makes it to the other side. What do you think? Ever helped a turtle crossing the road? Let us know in the comments below!