Threatened American crocodiles safely captured for important data

On a moonless night in May, an airboat glides across otherwise still, dark water outside FPL's Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant. Scouring the 5,900-acre manmade cooling canal system are university and Florida Power & Light Company experts who are doing the right thing.

Suddenly, there's a loud splash and cautious "thump" as a small American crocodile is hauled out of the water. The experts work quickly to determine the creature's size, weight and gender. "Capturing tells us so much more than simply guessing from a distance," said Mario Aldecoa, from FPL's crocodile program. "Our data shows that American crocodiles, which are listed as threatened, are flourishing in our cooling canals."

Since 1978, FPL has gathered data on American crocodiles at its Turkey Point facility. For the previous two years, crocodile capture events like this have helped determine the long-term health, survivability and population patterns for these creatures.

"It's rewarding as a biologist to work for a company that has helped an endangered species," said Jodie Gless, FPL environmental specialist. "I look forward to these capture events because we get to closely examine the crocodiles and safely return them to the water so they can continue to thrive."