Skip to main content

Crocs Live! --- With Help from FPL’s Turkey Point Nuclear Plant

aldecoaThe AP has an interesting story making the rounds about Florida’s Turkey Point nuclear energy facility. At first, I thought to call this post something like Unintended Consequences, because what’s happening there could seem a consequence of the facility being where it is. But really, it’s more than that, because Turkey Point, which is run by FPL, has taken an active hand in enhancing what is happening there. The good work there is active, not passive.

Here’s the story:

There are between 1,500 and 2,000 crocodiles in Florida — 40 years ago there were 300. They are listed as an endangered species by the state, but were downgraded a few years ago to "threatened" on the federal list.

And that’s because of Turkey Point:

Since the croc monitoring program began at the plant in 1978, some 5,000 hatchlings have been captured and marked. [Tukey Point biologist Mario] Aldecoa said that indicates that some female crocodiles are returning year after year to the habitat surrounding Turkey Point to lay their eggs.

And what does the presence of the facility have to do with this? There are two factors. The first is about the plant’s operation:

Its [Turkey Point’s] cooling canals are prime croc habitat and have been credited with helping the crocodiles' recovery in Florida over the last few decades.

And second, there are FPL’s efforts to foster and support the recovery:

Aldecoa is part of a group hired by the state's largest public utility, Florida Power and Light, to monitor the hundreds of crocodiles that roam the swamps surrounding the plant.

Good neighbor policies on the part of business and industry are not new, and many many nuclear energy facilities put a high priority on being good stewards of the land around them and the animals that call the facilities home, but I doubt FPL knew the crocodile expansion would happen until it started happening – so it seems remarkable that it decided to put considerable effort and resources into making sure it continued along a positive path.

Aldecoa and his group search out baby crocs, measure them, affix microchips on them for tracking (many of them end up in adult crocs’ bellies) and help the state keep records on them:

He [Aldecoa] had searched weeks earlier for hatchlings at a spot where he was sure he would find a nest but came up empty. Once he started pounding on the dirt, the grunting from underground began. He dug up 34 crocodiles, "the highlight of the year so far," he said.

The story by Suzette Laboy is very good. By all means, take a read.

---

If you want to know more about the return of the crocodile in Florida, try Crocdocs, a site run by the University of Florida. From the site:

The American crocodile has made a comeback in South Florida in areas where suitable habitat remains and in some areas where habitat modification has made it more attractive to crocodiles. Nesting habitat was inadvertently created through construction activities at the Turkey Point Power Plant site, at Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge and other locations has to some extent compensated for the loss of nesting habitat elsewhere.

Inadvertent – there’s that word again. And of course, they recognize that the croc population increase has its downside:

Although the presence of crocodiles throughout south Florida is good news for this endangered species, it does present challenges for land and water managers. As crocodiles continue to increase in number and occupy new areas, encounters with humans will increase, thus, more complaints. Therefore we need a proactive educational program describing the recovery of this endangered species. This knowledge could be used to prepare people for the arrival of crocodiles into new areas and aid in the continuation of what is currently a successful recovery program.

I think this is a little overstated – remember, 3000 crocodiles in Florida, about 1.3 million alligators.

A company I worked for had a warehouse in Florida that often attracted alligators to its air conditioning vents, something that erecting fences around the vents could not prevent. Once, an alligator strode right through the front door of the warehouse, causing considerable, shall we say, consternation.

Living with creatures that eye you as food and aren’t always shy about letting you know it certainly provides challenges. Consider it a codicil to the proposition that humans have dominion over the fishes, the fowls and the beasts.

---

Now, if I ran Turkey Point, I’d make some hay out of this. This is a genuinely terrific initiative and no amount of cynicism about corporate motivation can make it less so – this is a uncomplicatedly benevolent activity – so why not tout it?

Maybe FPL is classier than I am. It’s actually pretty low key:

About nine-tenths of the Turkey Point property remains in its natural state of mangroves and fresh water wetlands. There are more than 60 known species of birds and animals that inhabit the property. Of these, 17 are endangered.

The endangered American crocodile enjoys a favorable habitat in the plant cooling canal system. We protect the crocodile and conduct research by counting crocodile nests annually to record population changes. More than 3,000 crocodiles have been marked and released, and FPL is committed to continuing protection of the species while encouraging ongoing public education.

FPL is also involved in the Florida Everglades Mitigation Bank. We are returning nearly 13,500 acres of wetlands to their natural, historical condition. We preserve this area to best serve Florida citizens and our own company goals because of the site's ecological value.

Turkey Point was recognized with the top industry award for land management and environmental stewardship.

A salute then to Turkey Point and FPL. Good neighbors, good stewards of the land, a friend to crocs and modest about it, too. Oh – it also produces a lot of electricity, I hear.

This work has been covered quite a bit. Check here (complete with slideshow!), here (video) and here for more.

Mario Aldecoa – looking happier than you’d expect a man holding a crocodile would look.

Comments

jim said…
I know this sounds kind of low and non-PC, but why doesn't Turkey Point expand its earnings and down-home public friendliness by creating a on-property crocodile farm to run a gator burger outlet and gator leather goods store? Provided they're protected since hatchlings, crocs breed like rabbits. The novelty of buying a nuke farm "Croc In The Box" burger would take the cold aloof shine off the plant and providing raw gator leather goods would turn a neat profit and popularize the plant and warm up nuclear's image like no one's business! I mean, com'on, with all those excess gators loafing around, does everyone have to run a PC wildlife habitat??

James Greenidge
Queens NY
Anonymous said…
Either Mr,. Greenidge forgot the words "endangered/threatened species" in the main post, or he forgot to use the /sarcasm tag.
Ellie Austin said…
Turkey point can breed both endangered/threatened crocodiles pro bono, as well as for profit already-abundant in Florida alligators.

Popular posts from this blog

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

New Home for Our Blog: Join Us on NEI.org

On February 27, NEI launched the new NEI.org. We overhauled the public site, framing all of our content around the National Nuclear Energy Strategy.

So, what's changed?

Our top priority was to put you, the user, first. Now you can quickly get the information you need. You'll enjoy visiting the site with its intuitive navigation, social media integration and compelling and shareable visuals. We've added a feature called Nuclear Now, which showcases the latest industry news and resources like fact sheets and reports. It's one of the first sections you'll see on our home page and it can be accessed anywhere throughout the site by clicking on the atom symbol in the top right corner of the page.
Most importantly for you, our loyal NEI Nuclear Notes readers, is that we've migrated the blog to the new site. Moving forward, all blog posts will be published in the News section, along with our press releases, Nuclear Energy Overview stories and more. Just look for the &qu…

Hurricane Harvey Couldn't Stop the South Texas Project

As Hurricane Harvey battered southeast Texas over the past week, the devastation and loss of life in its wake have kept our attention and been a cause of grief.

Through the tragedy, many stories of heroics and sacrifice have emerged. Among those who have sacrificed are nearly 250 workers who have been hunkered down at the South Texas Project (STP) nuclear plant in Matagorda County, Texas.

STP’s priorities were always the safety of their employees and the communities they serve. We are proud that STP continued to operate at full power throughout the storm. It is a true testament to the reliability and resiliency of not only the operators but of our industry.

The world is starting to notice what a feat it is to have maintained operations through the catastrophic event. Forbes’ Rod Adams did an excellent job describing the contribution of these men and women:

“STP storm crew members deserve to be proud of the work that they are doing. Their families should take comfort in the fact that…