HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Crocodiles are making a comeback in South Florida, and they are breeding in an unlikely environment. American crocodiles are crawling back from the brink of extinction at South Florida’s Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant.
Once endangered, they are now listed as ‘threatened,’ in large part to the Florida Power and Light "Croc Team."
During hatching season, July and August, the croc team rides their airboats up and down Turkey Point’s 170 miles of nuclear cooling canals, looking for nests and rescuing hatchlings.
They’ve found 27 nests and taken about 300 baby crocs back to the lab.
Wildlife biologist Mike Lloret measures them and inserts a tiny microchip into each tail in order to track them throughout their lives.
"They’re not radioactive. That’s definitely a question we get asked all the time," said Lloret.
The croc team then releases the hatchlings back into the wild.
25 percent of the crocodile population calls this nuclear crocodile sanctuary home. The canals, berms, and minimal human encounters make it a perfect home for the crocodiles.
Adult females lay between 30 and 50 eggs every year, but most don’t survive due to predation by birds, fish and even other crocodiles.
"Besides the fact that they’re important to for the environment, our whole lives are dedicated to these crocodiles, and, we wait all year for this moment where we put them back in their natural habitat. That’s the ultimate satisfaction," added Lloret.