HOMESTEAD (CBS4) – Once on the endangered species list, the American crocodile has flourished in a most unlikely place.

In the shadow of a nuclear power plant.

The plant, FPL’s Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant uses over 150 miles of man made canals to help cool the atomic fueled operation.

But there are no two headed toads or three eyed Ibises in this non radioactive water loop, instead there are plenty of crocodiles.

The canals act as a natural habitat and because the site is on FPL land, rarely sees human activity.

That’s where Bob Bertelson and Mario Aldecoa come in.  They work for FPL’s Land Utilization unit monitoring the ground water and wildlife on the sprawling property.

Bertelson says he’s seen a ten fold increase in the number of croc in the last 20 years.

A pleasant surprise for the reptile loving biologist who says, “Do not turn your back on a croc, they are unpredictable.”

Craig Setzer

Comments (113)
  1. Sue says:

    Truly excellent story, both informative and interesting, too — it’s rare that a meteorologist can do such a good job reporting as well…give this guy a big raise for double-duty!

    1. Tex says:

      Don’t panic BUT I saw this same thing happen in a JAP horror film and the turtles got huge and coluld fl;y and kill..

      1. ablecynic says:

        Yeah, they don’t mention that the young alligators are already 40 feet long and growing fast. And that they have a taste for human flesh. And they like to surface right under boats when there are fishermen in them. Yeah, I saw the same movie.

    2. George Fuller says:

      Don’t they really mean alligators?

      1. Cliff Claven says:

        Can’t say what they really meant, but there is a small population of American Crocodiles in southern Florida. Since the alligator is not endangered, the context would indeed indicate the crocs.

      2. Kingfish says:

        I thought Nancy P was going to drain the swamp, we need to relocate these liberal eating alligators to the Potomac and Anacostia rivers in D.C., they will thrive even more.

      3. kls says:

        No these are American crocodile, they are far more dangerous than alligators. If you see an alligators in the water you should get near the bank so that you can get out if he takes and interest in you.

        If you see an crocodile in the water you must leave it immediately. They will attack you. I live in FL, and an not really happy to hear this animal is making a comeback. They are extremely territorial.

    3. esther goldber says:

      This is great, it should drop the price of alligator purses for us ladies!

      1. Ancient Pollyanna says:

        Except that these are crocs. Isn’t that some kind of rubber?

  2. Sara says:

    I’d venture to guess that the temperature of the water must play a factor. Manatees flourish in this warmer water too and congregate in these spots during the winter.

    1. Silhouette says:

      I believe you are 100% correct. In addidtion to a more hospitible environment, the warmer water that attracts the manatees gives the crocs added, easily attainable food (young manatees, fish, turtles, etc.). It’s natural that they would multiply……or maybe migrate to the warm water oasis’.

      1. phil says:

        IT is comments like these that keep me reading comments. So refreshing to see a good point made simply discussing the article at hand. Without a stab at politics, or another commenter. And a reply with more good points in a respectful manner. God I wish more people could behave like adults online. Seriously World of Warcraft chats are usually more civilized than these. But I definitely agree with you guys. I imagine the plant has so many canals because the water circulates through the plant fairly rapidly and then is left in the canals to cool for quite a while. I would be interested to know just how much warmer this water is than nearby streams. Also I bet the water is much cleaner because it is most like filtered before it goes through the plant.

    2. Kevin says:

      I read that the sandy banks of the canals are ideal for nesting crocs.They get bigger than Alligators too, a 17′ Croc has already been measured & released. There’s also a buffet of introduced species for them to feed on.

      1. Dave says:

        ridiculous. Use Google maps next time before wasting your time typing. Turkey Point is located south of Miami. The water is always warm whether there is a power plant or not.

      2. Jason W says:

        Why is warmer temp water better? Everything I’ve been told is that warmer temps are going to kill our planet, that’s why we must fight global warming.

    3. Kevin Pearson says:

      Same thing with the caribou around the Alaskan pipeline. The herd is attracted to the warmth that is given off by the pipeline and the size of the herd has tripled.

      There was even a story years back, how off-shore drilling platforms had seen the drilling pipe that extends to the ocean floor, have become sort of like artificial reefs teeming with marine activity in wares that were otherwise “dead zones”.

      Funny, that the enviro-wacko protest anything that would permit a BIG CORPORATION from operating, anytime you see a BIG CORPORATE OPERATION, where they make BIG MONEY, you see a lot more “environment” than before.

    4. Joe says:

      Seems logical. I’m only a farmer but if this is a mystery to the trained, no wonder we have so many stupid conservation laws. Geese which are still on the endangered species list are covering us in excrement up here in the midwest. New construction requires collection pools and the pools not only collect water but many geese.

  3. capoprimo says:

    Why does this surprise anyone? Everything grows better in a warmer climate and warmet water should not be the exception!

  4. Kevin Stowell says:

    I realize all those Eddie-Bauer greenies are reluctant to get out of their Land Rovers when they can fabricate the realities of ecology/envrironment but this is nothing new. The water stays warmer, on average, year round than before, probably. That was the case with the plant in Clinton, IL, where the fish are much larger and more numerous in the cooling lakes than in the “natural” lakes in the are.

  5. Ted says:

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Crocodiles?

  6. Philip Hopkins says:

    this is news? the water stays warmer. activity is high all year round. everyone eats more. if you fish, you know this is the place to do it. you gonna pull out some whopper bass. there is no slow season at a plant.

    1. Nomad says:

      Exactly! There is a natural gas power plant near where I live and the crocs and fish love the warm water in the cooling lake. This is not related to the plant being nuclear at all. No news here.

    2. Hudson says:

      It’s news to the vast majority of the populace, who think fission involves a line and a reel.

  7. Jed says:

    Time to fire up the BBQ and eat some crocs.

    1. Brother Joshua says:

      Yes, it is. They call it a human interest story. All the papers have them, even in Miami. I know, I know, you are more interested in watching fat Chinese children doing calisthenics. But I find this interesting, and I truly think you should too.

  8. Carole says:

    Florida has alligators, not crocodiles.

    1. steve5150 says:

      Sorry Carol, but Florida also supports a good size crocodile population.

    2. Nolan says:

      Actually, it has both. Google is your friend, in this case…

    3. Aristotle 120 says:

      Has both.

      1. Mark Matis says:

        And plenty of crocks as well. Crocks of something or other, mostly imported from higher latitudes…

    4. Tom Walter says:

      Wrong, We Have Crocs Down Here Too.

    5. Silhouette says:

      Actially, the American crocodile found in Florida waters is why alligators were put on the endangered species list…because the average Joe can’t tell a croc from a gator…so to protect the crocs, BOTH were added to the endangered species list…even though Florida is rife with gators.

    6. denise says:

      The Croc can live in both salt and brackish water, while the gator only fresh. It IS a concern IF the Croc are feeding on the protected Manatee.

      1. A1 sauce says:

        You don’t want to tangle with either one.
        The salt water crocodile is/was extremely rare.
        At one point there were supposedly fewer than five hundred around the terminus of the Everglades water flow.
        Good for the crocs!

      2. oceandc says:

        Although very rare, alligators have been known to venture into salt water also. When I was in my early 20’s, about 30 years ago, I actually accidentally hooked one shark fishing at the Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge. The owners said that particular alligator had been there for years. He was released unharmed and last I heard was still there; but that was at least 20 years ago. Being a Marine Biologist it shocked the heck out of me but since then I have seen a couple more in the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter, Fl.

      3. crock of what ? says:

        “IF the Croc are feeding on the protected Manatee.”

        Oh the in-hu-manatee of it all !

      4. Former Miamian says:

        Tell the croc his dinner is protected! I’m sure that will help!

    7. Kevin Pearson says:

      Crocodiles are a lot “shier” than alligators, so they are not seen as easily as alligators, but they ARE THERE. They stay away from humans more, (as the article indicated there are no humans in the area) They are typically found in the mangroves of the Keys.

    8. ANIMALAURA says:

      Carole. Please educate yourself. Your ignorance is showing.

  9. steve5150 says:

    Nothing really surprising here. Manatees are only in Southern Florida because of power plants. They allow these animals to winter north of their normal range by creating a warm “micro habitat”. I guess crocs prefer warmer waters as well.

  10. phillysmart says:

    Probably due to the fact that their most dangerous enmy (humans” are scarce

  11. Don Kuchta says:

    Wrong, a species of crocidiles does exist in Florida.

  12. Gary says:

    SHHHHH. Don’t let the enviromental whackos hear this!

  13. Kyle says:

    If the crocodiles are dependent on the waters adjacent to the power plant they are still endangered. Power plants don’t last forever and creating a “bubble” of artificial habitat isn’t sparing them from disaster..its setting them up for disaster once that power plant is decommissioned.

    1. denise says:

      Did anyone claim that they were dependent on the area. Crocs/Gators will go were the food is abundant.

    2. zeak says:

      That is good reason to protect humans so the crocs can prosper. I knew there was a reason for living

    3. Joel says:

      That sounds like the welfare state in nutshell…

  14. Rick O'Shea says:

    Stupid story, who’d a guess crocs would like a warmer water environment?

  15. Michael Pelt says:

    A nuclear power plant actually helped the environment. The environmental treehugging wackos won’t like to hear this!

  16. JoeShmo1979 says:

    Maybe the growith isnt something so fantastic as radioactivity and mutations but simply that the water around the plant is heated more than is natural to the area. Making the environment more tropical like. The more warmth the longer the growth period. This is true of fish as well. Bass in Florida grow significantly larger than those in Georgia or Alabama.

  17. nad says:

    How many tax dollars did this cost us .Should have just asked the crocodile hunters

  18. Fanden says:

    MY sister worked at a nuke plant in Illinois. They used to fish in the cooling ponds. When we went to tour the facility, we were instructed NOT to make any jokes about 3-eyed fish or some such you would be escorted out by security.

    1. Nelson J Struck says:

      Those nuke plant folks are not known for their sense of humor.

  19. freecheese says:

    I was always told that Crocodiles aren’t in to the U. S., but rather we only have Aligators.
    I live on the Gulf Coast and have NEVER seen a crock, but rather, some big gators.
    There is a difference, and when one writes about gators, they need to educate themselves.
    Last time I checked, crocks were common south of the Equator.
    If you can tell me otherwise, please let me know.

    1. Zackg says:

      Yes, south florida does have a small population of American Crocodiles, which are more common in Latin America. Gators are abundant throughout the gulf coast.

    2. Kevin Pearson says:

      Uh, maybe because the crocodiles hang out in the mangrove swamps in the Keys, were there are few humans. Alligators are more aggressive and invade human neighborhoods. Crocs don’t.

    3. ANIMALAURA says:

      I am amazed at how uninformed the American public remains on the wildlife in Florida…. which does INDEED have crocodiles. It has gators too… and how a multitude of various species of pythons, boas and other exotics. But the crocs have been in Florida forever! So, “Freecheese”… please educate yourself. The internet can help you.

  20. A. james says:

    Huh. I didn’t think anything could be scarier than a zombie apocalypse. I suppose I stand corrected…

  21. zackg says:

    It would be cool to see the crocs make a big come back. Those things are huge when they get full grown, much bigger than the gators which made a comeback years ago.

  22. mirted says:

    This is truly good news for handbag, belt,purse, vest and cowboy boot buyers!
    Hot items for Christmas. Let’s give new meaning to “Harvest Time” and prevent
    a disaster that will occur when they overpopulate and start looking for other sources of nourishment. I can see a “Crocodile Spring” in early 2012. This will be one Michelle Obama can really get behind and be “proud of her country” for being so fashion sensitive.

  23. R. L. Hails Sr. P. E. says:

    About 2/3 of the heat generated in any thermoelectric power plant, nuclear or fossil fueled, flows out as a river of warm water. Some species thrive in this perpetual environment. If the plant shuts down, and no protective actions are taken, a massive kill may occur. Other species, e.g trout, can not tolerate warm water; they will die in this environment. If the effect is bad, the water is cooled in massive curved towers, where the heat goes into the air.

    Consider the cloud flowing from any cooling tower; it is identical to a rain cloud. Compare its size to a rain system that ranges from the Gulf to New England. This gives scale to man made energy relative to the energy in nature.

    This is true, not a croc story.

  24. John Houpt says:

    lots of Crocs in the Everglades as well…they migrate to the warmer water of the power plant…..the American Croc is passive, unlike their Salty cousins, i have never had any problems with them. more problems from the over population of gators!!! look me up if you want to go visit them!!!
    Capt John

    1. denise says:

      The American Croc lives in Salt water too!

  25. T.F.H., M.D. says:

    My parents owned a home (pre-Andrew) on Flamingo Ct, in the Villages of Homestead. I used to ride the ol’ Bultaco to the area in question and fish (when I should have been studying for med school). I always worried about cotton-mouths, scorpions, and rattlers – never having given a thought to gators, let alone croc’s…

    And oh-so close to Homestead’s Bayfront Park! [no wonder why several of the pelicans were sporting only one leg!]

  26. Dr. Curtis Conner says:

    I’d kill every damn one of them!

      1. Salt life says:

        Good Question.
        Why Doc??

    1. Brother Joshua says:

      That’s the spirit.

    2. Kingfish says:

      Damn, i feel sorry for his patients.

  27. Natural Selection says:

    Time for a new pair of boots with matching wallet!

    When prepared correctly, they say it tastes just like alligator.

  28. Bfife says:

    At least this story isn’t a Croc.

  29. FN Cee says:

    Someone needs to open Kenny’s Krok Kafe at Turkey Point ,,, serving only the local, expertly prepared meats and sides …

  30. Ed Fitch says:

    Similarly, the nuclear power plant outside of Detroit that empties its warm water into Lake Erie has resulted a very large increase in fish and, marine life of all kinds, in that part of the Lake. In the last 35+ years of operation there have been no reports of mutants or freaks in the Lake Erie, and fishermen enjoy the consistently good catches of fish.

  31. philbill says:

    Yikes – while stationed at Homestead AFB in the ’70’s, did a lot of snorkeling there. Did know of crocs, but they were only found in the Keys – back then! How do aligators let them in their turf?

  32. Eric2U says:

    I knew people who dived for rock lobsters near the plant (illegally). They are bigger and very numerous there due to FPL and warmer water. Probably explains croc pop.

  33. Eric2U says:

    Caymens are small crocs and alligators rarely attack people.

  34. Bogie says:

    Obama once talked about a Canal between Mexico and the United States….sounds like a great place to put the Crocs….Boa’s too

  35. JT says:

    So, crocodiles living in a nuclear power plant’s network of water cooling canals is news, but 3 melted down and out spewing reactor cores is not?

  36. Tom says:

    This is like the beginning of the movie Godzilla. We’re all doomed.

  37. Kevin Pearson says:

    Just because the Desert Inn in Yeehaw Junction doesn’t have crocodile burgers on its menu doesn’t mean that there aren’t any crocodiles in Florida. They are just down in the Keys – and now at Turkey Point (which is very close to the Keys. )

  38. jimbo says:

    question to those here who seem to be in the know: I’ve always heard that crocs are hardwired by nature to be significantly more aggressive & dangerous then alligators. Infact, i’ve heard unlike a gator, they actually will attack swimmers & those on banks. Thus if this species is a croc (albeit a western hemisphere one), wouldnt it also be more dangerous.

    1. kls says:

      In a nutshell yes, croc’s are territorial, they will not flee their territory and will attack any large animal that enters it because it is a threat. When they talk about fight or flight reflexes, croc’s flight reflex is primitive so it is dominated by the fight reflex. This is the case with most territorial animals. Croc’s in a body of water can render that water uninhabitable by humans and other large animals. Areas of the Nile are an example where humans cannot or will not enter the water due to the chances of being attacked by a croc or hippo (both territorial animals).

      The gator prefers the flight path when faced with a large animal so gators will generally choose the put distance between themselves and a large animal such as a human, unless they are hungry. Given their slow metabolism, humans usually have nothing to worry about, because it is the only time that their fight reflex dominated their flight reflex and are interested it fighting with large prey.

      A part of me is glad to see these animals making a come back, and so long as it is regional to uninhabited areas it is good, but if these guys start spreading out to some of the other lakes and rivers, they will render them uninhabitable by humans where people literally cannot enter the water to swim or participate in other water-sports.

  39. Mike says:

    Not a mystery to me. As a teenager I often went fishing with my Uncle in the outlet below the Muskogee power plant – even in the dead of winter we could catch our limit due to the warmer water. Alligators are cold-blooded, water outlet is warm and attracts prey. Case closed.

  40. Mark says:

    This is the most idiotic load of bull**** I’ve read yet. Florida has both alligators and crocodiles. The FL crocodile (NOT the alligator) does not belong on the mainland. It’s real home is the FL Keys, where it’s much warmer. Therefore if there are ANY crocs near the mainland power plant then it’s a population boom. The reason they’re there is because the excess heat from the reactor makes the localized climate more tollerable to them.

  41. luckydog says:

    Where are the protestors?

  42. luckydog says:

    Fried Gator is good, anyone tried fried crock?

  43. Dave says:

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Alligators!

  44. Power maker says:

    The nuclear power is used to creat stem to turn turbins, then the steam is condenced back to water and relesed into the water at 85 degrees, so it is breeding season year around.

  45. Midas says:

    Please, this isn’t rocket science – the water around the plant is likely warmer, and the crocs like it. Simple as that.

  46. Jim says:

    Good news / bad news. Good that the Croc’s will survive in North America for the forseeable future but bad news for the rest of the food chain. As a SFL resident I know they are not just breeding but florishing and moving into Broward county not just Dade and Monroe. The warm water and huge amounts of food in those FPL canals will mean very large animals in big numbers. Nature is not taking its coarse here and they will have to be effectively managed or people will die. Should be interesting.

    1. Betty White says:

      “moving into Broward county…”

      I don’t have a problem with that – it’s just Darwin’s law at work.

      The strong survive and the rest get eaten.

      The folks in Broward… wow, life really does have a way of getting even.

  47. Anon Ymous says:

    LOL – Makes sense. Since they probably glow in the dark now, they can mate all night. – Seriously, though, hooray for the truth finally making it into print. I’m happy to see somebody finally writing realistically about nuclear power!

  48. Jim Heldman says:

    I live in Oakland and we could use those Crocs (or whatever they are) out here at the Occupy Oakland site. The critters are hungry and many of the protesters are making a mess of our city. This could be a win/win for the critters as well as those of us who are tired of the people who are making a big mess here.

    1. OWS meets Wild says:

      Hey, if you can’t move the gators to the OWS then move the OWS to the gators.

      It would sure make for some real entertainment on cable TV.

  49. Mr. Bone Man says:

    I lived 25 years in Venice – Gulf coast, between Tampa & Ft Myers. While fishing the Intercoastal south of Venice – lots of mangroves & little islands, all salt, I saw dents in the shorelines that looked like slideways that gators make in river banks when they slide back into the water. I remarked about them, said “I didn’t know gators ever roamed the salt water”, and was told that they were made by crocs. Venice is 100 miles north of Naples, and quite far from the Keys.

  50. rowley says:

    Only FAIR FOR OBAMA to move those Crocs and Canals to Mexican Border where he promised us moats with alligators.

  51. Robert Marvin Smith says:

    I saw this in a 1950s movie when I was a boy.

    See the crocs are going to mutate becasue of radioactivity. They will become as large as houses and eat whole communities.

    Obama will speak to the nation and blame global warming and Bush.

  52. Gatorman says:

    Historically, crocodiles ranged as far north as Fort Lauderdale on the East coast and St. Pete on the Wes coret.. But the core population was around Biscayne Bay and the Keys and the tip of the Glades. The crocs stuck to the mangroves and brackish bays and inlets. Croc population took a nose dive by the 1960 due to over hunting and development. There were probably around 300 left in the Keys and tip of the Everglades. Turkey Point is well within their historic range, the warm and protected waters of the plant have simply provided them a big boost.

  53. Robbzilla says:

    I used to work at the Glen Rose Tx Nuclear plant. The cooling lake kept a nice constant temp. I don’t remember the exact temp, but even in winter, it’s lukewarm at worst. I’m sure the extra warmth in the cooler times helps the gators conserve energy and keeps them more active.

  54. ken says:

    Did you know that the meanist animal on earth is the crocagator, a rare cross between an alligator and a crocadile. It has a big snapping croc mouth on one end and a big snapping gator mouth on the other end. Well you might ask, if it has a big snapping mouth on both ends how does it poop. Well, it don’t. That’s what makes it so mean.

  55. Hoss Ross Chisom says:


  56. Charlie Nestor says:

    No doubt the crocs are also an eco-friendly component of the power plant’s security plan …

  57. Aqua Pool says:

    Warm waters are attractive to marine life. if you go to youtube and search Pool Water Chemical Management by you can learn more

  58. Mike says:

    Saw a Croc on a boat tour in the glades. small tho, and very wary. I suspect even more than the warm waters is that the habitat has no human population. The meanest are in the north portion of Australia, and they get bigger than Nile Crocs.

  59. fake_ear says:

    I used to hunt crocs in Florida. They called me Crocodile Ear.

  60. Mike says:

    Wait. Was there and EPA study before this plant was built? They should have to have another EPA study now. You have to eradicate the extra crocs as they have now created an man-made imbalance. Those extra crocs have to eat something. What other species have the extra crocs wiped out? this is bad. this is very bad.
    The extra crocs could add to global warming. Woe is us, woe is us !!! They should have to dump ice water into the cooling canals to balance out the warming of the water caused by the power plants. Oye ! Oye! Oye!

  61. Al Mount says:

    Sounds like a great place for the “DNC Ski Team” to practive..

  62. Ancient Pollyanna says:

    Homeland Security?

  63. David says:

    Any chance the American crocodile could become the hunter of the constrictor ?

  64. philbill says:

    Having lived in SW Miami in the early ’60’s, we often went to the beach at Coconut Grove, where the water was crystal clear and gorgeous. Ten years later I went back there to snorkel, and the water was dark green, you could not see your feet in a foot of water. I was told the Turkey Point power pland had raised Biscayne Bay’s temperature a single degree, causing a permanent algae bloom.

  65. Mike_88 says:

    The temperature must be just right to make abundant females.