Wildlife biologist/crocodile specialist Michael Lloret demonstrates how he uses a reader to check a microchip that he implanted into a baby crocodile that came out a crocodile nest on one of the berms along the cooling canals next to the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station, Friday, July 19, 2019, in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

American crocodiles thriving outside nuclear plant

‘Humans are too big to be on their menu’

MIAMI — American crocodiles, once headed toward extinction, are thriving at an unusual spot — the canals surrounding a South Florida nuclear plant.

Last week, 73 crocodile hatchlings were rescued by a team of specialists at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point nuclear plant and dozens more are expected to emerge soon.

Turkey Point’s 168-mile (270 kilometres) of man-made canals serve as the home to several hundred crocodiles, where a team of specialists working for FPL monitors and protects them from hunting and climate change.

From January to April, Michael Lloret, an FPL wildlife biologist and crocodile specialist, helps create nests and ponds on berms for crocodiles to nest. Once the hatchlings are reared and left by the mother, the team captures them. They are measured and tagged with microchips to observe their development. Lloret then relocates them to increase survival rates.

“We entice crocodiles to come in to the habitats FPL created,” Lloret said. “We clear greenery on the berms so that the crocodiles can nest. Because of rising sea levels wasting nests along the coasts, Turkey Point is important for crocodiles to continue.”

READ MORE: Mysterious sea creature washes ashore at Island View Beach

The canals are one of three major US habitats for crocodiles, where 25% of the 2,000 American crocodiles live. The FPL team has been credited for moving the classification of crocodiles on the Endangered Species Act to “threatened” from “endangered” in 2007. The team has tagged 7,000 babies since it was established in 1978.

Temperature determines the crocodiles’ sex: the hotter it is the more likely males are hatched. Lloret said this year’s hatchlings are male-heavy due to last month being the hottest June on record globally.

Because hatchlings released are at the bottom of the food chain, only a small fraction survives to be adults. Lloret said they at least have a fighting chance at Turkey Point, away from humans who hunted them to near-extinction out of greed and fear even though attacks are rare. Only one crocodile attack has ever been recorded in the U.S. – a couple were both bitten while swimming in a South Florida canal in 2014, but both survived.

“American crocodiles have a bad reputation when they are just trying to survive,” Lloret said. “They are shy and want nothing to do with us. Humans are too big to be on their menu.”

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Highway 1 to look like winter war zone until owners retrieve wrecked vehicles

Tow-truck driver says 30 vehicles still dot snowy landscape, including one rolled-over dairy truck

Suspected car thief bean-bagged by Abbotsford police for resisting arrest

‘It doesn’t break the skin usually, but it hurts so much you might as well be shot’

Mission’s Steelhead community wants second public hearing on proposed asphalt plant

Online petition against proposal has more than 2,200 signatures

Abbotsford bank ATM robbery thwarted by woman standing her ground

Police arrest alleged known robber running down South Fraser wearing balaclava

Teen accused in Abbotsford attack on 85-year-old convicted of firearms offence

Brandon Janveaux found in vehicle in Chilliwack with .22-calibre rifle down his pants

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in lingerie store

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

Vancouver police probe second homicide in less than 24 hours

Woman was found dead in her Gastown home

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Vancouver police investigate after man found dead in vehicle

Man has not been identified and no one has been arrested

Most Read