Why crocodiles inhabiting a Florida nuclear power plant are thriving

The American crocodiles that live in the cooling channels of the Turkey Point nuclear and gas power plant complexin South Florida, are in good reproductive health based on the 2021 breeding record.

Of the 27 viable nests discovered last year by biologists from the conservation program for the species Crocodylus acutus promoted by the energy company FPL, which manages the plants, 565 offspring emerged, the highest number in 40 years, according to a statement from the company Florida Power & Light (FPL).

Turkey Point, just 25 miles south of Miami, is a perfect refuge for the vulnerable Crocodylus acutusanimals other than alligators and alligators, species that also inhabit Florida.

Why 2021 was very fruitful for crocodiles

The extreme security of the place, where there are no more people than the workers of the two twin nuclear plants and the gas plant, and the large amount of space available, some 4,455 hectares, have helped make the program a success.

The crocodiles live in the cooling channels of the water used in the power plants.which measure a total of 168 miles and are separated from each other by artificial embankments covered in vegetation.

Crocodiles live in the cooling channels. (Photo: Egor Kamelev/Pexels)

The females lay their eggs in April or May and hatching occurs in about 90 days.

Mothers have a biological clock that tells them when their children are going to break the shell with a kind of tooth that they have in their nose for that purpose and when they hear their first noises they run to the nest to grab all the eggs and with them in their mouths. is thrown into the water.

In a statement, Kate MacGregor, FLP’s vice president of environmental services, said “the tireless work shown in Turkey Point has resulted in a significant increase in the once endangered American crocodile population“.

According to FPL, in 2021 efforts were made to encourage female crocodiles to return to their nesting sites by preparing places where they laid eggs in other years and the continuous improvement of the water quality of the canal system.

The long way of the crocodiles

In the 1970s, the future did not look bright for the American alligator, a stocky but shy reptile that once made its home in the mangrove and estuarine regions of South Florida.

Due to overhunting and habitat destruction, the number of the species had been reduced to fewer than 300 individuals in the state. In 1975, Florida’s American alligators were listed as endangered.

But just two years later, something unexpected happened. Employees at the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station, located about 25 miles south of Miami, spotted a crocodile’s nest among the plant’s network of man-made cooling channels.

Crocodile at Turkey Point. (Photo: Pixabay / Pexels)

Florida Power & Light Co., the company that operates the plant, launched a program to monitor and protect the crocodiles that had settled in this unusual habitat.. And ever since, the plant’s resident crocodile population has been booming.

These factors greatly contributed to nesting and hatching success, producing 27 successful nests, second only to 28 nests in 2008.

This strategy will be implemented again for the 2022 nesting season, FPL noted.

With the help of FPL’s conservation efforts, the American alligator was transitioned from endangered to threatened status in 2007.

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