FPL Turkey Point's Crocodile Monitoring Program started in 1978 after plant workers unexpectedly discovered a crocodile nest on one of the berms of the cooling canal system. Since then, FPL has implemented a Crocodile Management Plan with the ultimate goal of providing suitable habitat for this protected species. In 2007, the USFWS announced the crocodile’s down-listing from endangered to threatened in Florida under the Endangered Species Act and credited Turkey Point for greatly contributing to those efforts.
Today, dedicated experts at the plant continue to monitor crocodile nests, hatchlings, juveniles, and adults. Since the first nest, their numbers have steadily increased. On average, crocodile experts capture 350 baby crocodiles each year out of approximately 22 nests, sometime around the first week of July through August. It has been calculated that 400 adult and juvenile crocodiles live within the plant’s cooling canal system at any given time.
Wildlife biologists work year-round to document and monitor American crocodiles living in the plant’s cooling canals by using two types of animal tracking methods: AVID microchips and scute clippings. The AVID microchips are regularly used on all types of animals, including dogs and cats. At Turkey Point, biologists use them as a reference ID to scan the captured animal, as well as to track any animal that falls prey to others. FPL started using the chips in 1996. The scute clippings practice has been in place since the beginning of the program in the 1970s. Clippings represent the animal’s ID number and location. There are only three sanctuaries of first capture in South Florida: Everglades National Park, Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge on Key Largo and FPL’s Turkey Point. The clippings provide a quick way for experts to determine in which area the crocodiles were first tagged.