How Nuclear Power Helped Save the American Crocodile

Here's a great success story. When the American crocodile first received a proposal for endangered species protection in 1975, there were just an estimated 10-20 breeding females left in their primary habitat of Florida. Today, the population has practically exploded, and current estimates place the entire adult population at close to 2,000 crocs (not counting hatchlings). In fact, back in March, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service upgraded the species' status from "endangered" to "threatened."

One major -- and surprising -- factor in the crocodiles' success has been the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant run by Florida Power and Light. According to a CBS News report, building the plant resulted in the creation of an ideal habitat for crocodile breeding:

"The high ground is so ideal for laying crocodile eggs that Turkey Point has become an enormous crocodile nursery. It's now home to about 500 full-grown crocodiles -- a quarter of the country's entire adult crocodile population."

FPL seems to take its crocodile stewardship quite seriously. It employs a crocodile caretaker, who catalogs the hundreds of baby crocs born on Turkey Point property each year.

According to Fish & Wildlife, which came up with the recovery plan for the species, "About 95 percent of the remaining crocodile habitat in southern Florida has been acquired by federal, state, and county agencies. These protected areas should allow the crocodile population to expand and may provide additional nesting opportunities."

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