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

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…

Innovation Fuels the Nuclear Legacy: Southern Nuclear Employees Share Their Stories

Blake Bolt and Sharimar Colon are excited about nuclear energy. Each works at Southern Nuclear Co. and sees firsthand how their ingenuity powers the nation’s largest supply of clean energy. For Powered by Our People, they shared their stories of advocacy, innovation in the workplace and efforts to promote efficiency. Their passion for nuclear energy casts a bright future for the industry.

Blake Bolt has worked in the nuclear industry for six years and is currently the work week manager at Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia. He takes pride in an industry he might one day pass on to his children.

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it?
As a Work Week Manager at Plant Hatch, my primary responsibility is to ensure nuclear safety and manage the risk associated with work by planning, scheduling, preparing and executing work to maximize the availability and reliability of station equipment and systems. I love my job because it enables me to work directly with every department on the plant…