Photo: Pakutaso
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Flight out of Narita Airport delayed because of a turtle on the runway

21 Comments
By SoraNews24

There are always a lot of fears associated with air travel, from the unlikely situation of lightning striking a wing to the more rational fear of a crime boss putting a crate of vipers onboard in order to kill a key witness in their murder trial.

But probably no one aboard a flight from Tokyo to Okinawa on Friday was prepared for this announcement from the captain prior to take-off:

“I’ve just gotten word that a turtle has intruded on the runway we were to take off from… just now on the runway… so we have to stop temporarily….”

The incident took place on Runway A of Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture at about 11:30 a.m. and the removal of the wayward reptile reportedly delayed the flight by about 10 minutes. Despite the disruption, crew and passengers were happy that little guy was out of harm’s way.

▼ A news report on the turtle disturbance.

While other animals such as cats have been known to wander onto the tarmac from time to time, even a veteran pilot commented that this was the first time to see a turtle out there. It was taken into custody by airport officials and found to be about 30 centimeters long and weighed about two kilograms.

To identify what kind of turtle this was, media contacted animal expert Tsuyoshi Shirawa, whose fame grew recently when he successfully found the runaway python that frightened a neighborhood in Yokohama for about a month.

Shirawa said that this turtle was a red-eared slider, a species native to the southern part of North America, but spread around the world because of its popularity as a pet. It is considered one of the most invasive species in the world and apparently has now begun invading airports too.

Shirawa suspects that while many red-eared sliders were abandoned in the wild by owners, the fact that there are no homes near the airport suggests that this one was probably born in one of the nearby rivers and simply wandered out a little further than usual.

A pilot who was interviewed by ANN News, however, wondered if it came from a different source: “Because the cargo area is near there, I wonder if it was in someone’s luggage, escaped, and then walked out onto the runway.”

Whatever the truth is behind this tiny terrapin’s trek, it seems that people abandoning animals was ultimately to blame. So next time you consider acquiring a pet, think long and hard about the long-term care that’s involved and the impact that failing to live up to it might have on the aviation industry.

Source: Ashahi Shimbun, TV Asahi

Read more stories from SoraNews24

-- 12-foot python found in Yokohama after evading authorities for 16 days

-- Crushed turtle on tracks delays train in Japan, problem “not uncommon”

-- Remote airport in Shimane serves up the best honey in all Japan: Airport Honey!

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

21 Comments
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Editors : The headline needs to be corrected from ‘Nartia’ to ‘Narita’.

Moderator: Thanks for pointing out the error. It has been fixed.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Wow! Hit that and your plane could turn turtle.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Could be a Tortoise or a Turtle. Can not tell just from the photo.

All tortoises are in fact turtles—that is, they belong to the order Testudines or Chelonia, reptiles having bodies encased in a bony shell—but not all turtles are tortoises.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Zichi the word ‘turtle’ is used as a catch-all in the USA. Japan Today tends to follow US usage.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

*“U.S. usage” *@nandakandamanda 12:26am but perhaps a different sensibility, or stoicism, than most ‘emotional’ North Americans?

*- @nandakandamanda 12:26am: “Japan Today tends to follow US usage.” -*

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Shells are hard as a rock and you wouldn't want one sucked into an engine.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Probably training for that turtle marathon.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Turtle - On Land and under Sea

Tortoise - Only on Land

Anyway, it's a good luck for me. Now i must visit turtle temple in Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Turtles can do no wrong regardless of their origin, judgmentally described 'invasiveness', or orneriness and any land in which turtles are welcome is a blessed place and they who stop to help a turtle in distress the best of Humanity. Turtles have roamed the Earth for 260 MILLION years, one of the best and most enduring designs in all of Nature. We Humans are just Mayflies compared to the turtle...

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Its natural habitat is the Mississippi delta rather than open seas. Being a semi-aquatic reptile and neither terrestrial nor marine makes it a terrapin.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The pilot must have fantastic eye sight to spot a turtle on the run way, especially if it was quite a distance from the plane.

If the pilot had run it over would it still be classed as road kill? or air strip kill?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The turtles story is likely to come to a sad end as being considered an invasive species it'll probably be put to death.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

One morning I was driving my daughter to school. As I passed through a park near my home there was a turtle bang right in the middle of the road. It wasn't moving and had went into its shell. I quickly got out and carried it 5 meters and put it in the grass to carry on its journey safely. It was quite heavy like a large stone. I'll never forget that.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Another slow day for the news!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

YOU SHALL NOT PAAAAAAASS!

Sorry, I’ll see myself out.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Smart move! Gamera is watching.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

These Red Ear Sliders, despite being an invasive species in Japan can be seen in literally every temple pond in Japan. Excluding Hokkaido which doesn't have many old temples anyway.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

All tortoises are in fact turtles—that is, they belong to the order Testudines or Chelonia, reptiles having bodies encased in a bony shell—but not all turtles are tortoises.

Thanks for the NatGeo update, most of us know the differences.

These Red Ear Sliders, despite being an invasive species in Japan can be seen in literally every temple pond in Japan. Excluding Hokkaido which doesn't have many old temples anyway.

They are and they are very hardy turtles that thrive in a lot of rough conditions, we have their cousins the yellow ear/side turtles about 15 of them in our pond, and still have most of them, they can live up to 35-40 years. They sell the hatchlings like crazy in every pet store around the world, a lot of people sadly don't know how to properly take care of them and they die often within two years or less, sometimes people get bored with them and then just flush them down the toilet or let them go and that has happened so often in Japan and is one of the reasons why these hardy turtles started to flourish and thrive. So hearing this kind of news, I am not the least bit surprised by this story, just glad they didn't hurt the animal. I wouldn't necessarily recommend them as pets, but if you have the space where they can swim and bask during the mornings and early afternoons and watch them from afar they are great to marvel at. If you want a turtle as a pet, it should be a land turtle/tortoise, not a pond, sea turtle, or terrapin.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

bass4funk

All tortoises are in fact turtles—that is, they belong to the order Testudines or Chelonia, reptiles having bodies encased in a bony shell—but not all turtles are tortoises.

Thanks for the NatGeo update, most of us know the differences.

Well, one poster did not because they posted it was a tortoise and not a turtle. So I posted my comment. The other post was then deleted leaving my own comment isolated.

But nandakandamanda posted,

"Zichi the word ‘turtle’ is used as a catch-all in the USA. Japan Today tends to follow US usage."

Is that corect? In America tortoise and turtles are in fact all called turtles?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It was just going out to say good bye to it's cousins who were on the initial Airbus "Sea Turtle" flight to Okinawa!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Zichi, I lived in the States for about six years and it was all about turtles. I rarely heard the word ‘tortoise’ at all.

In the UK on the other hand the word tortoise is comparatively commonly used in my experience, except when expressly referring to sea turtles, mock turtle soup, etc.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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