By Erika Owen
July 19, 2016
JFK Airport Runways
Credit: Stephen Mallon

Having a flight delayed because of weather or a mechanical issue can be incredibly frustrating, but there's one cause of flight delays at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport that is harder to be angry about.

Diamondback Terrapin turtles that live in Jamaica Bay cross the runways at JFK to lay their eggs in the sand that lines the concrete. According to DNAinfo, 396 turtles have been spotted at the airport this year alone.

The nesting ritual continues through mid-July. Most turtles are known for laying their eggs on sandy shores, complete with the sound of lapping waves and unbeatable sunset views. (Not a bad way to enter the world.)

New York City turtles, on the other hand, must enjoy the comforting roar of jet engines.

When pilots or other airport employees encounter a turtle attempting to cross a runway, they are to stop what they're doing and let the turtle finish its journey.

So the next time you have a mid-summer delay at JFK, remember: It might be an adorable turtle just trying to lay its eggs.

Erika Owen is the Senior Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.