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Baby crocodiles hatch at Florida nuclear plant

Biologist Mario Aldecoa releases a hatchling crocodile back into the wild after it was weighed and measured and tagged, near the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant in Homestead, Fla. Since the croc monitoring program began at the plant in 1978, some 5,000 hatchlings have been captured and marked at the plant that averages about 20 nests a year.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

HOMESTEAD, Florida (AP) - It's hatchling season for American crocodiles and the imperiled species is thriving outside one South Florida nuclear power plant.

Canals for cooling water at Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant are prime croc habitat and have been credited with helping the crocodiles' recovery in Florida. Biologists hired by utility Florida Power and Light monitor the hundreds of crocodiles that roam the swamps surrounding the plant.

Biologist Mario Aldeco says crocodiles time their breeding and nesting to correspond to the rainy season that comes in summer.

At night, Aldeco captures newly hatched crocs and takes them to an on-site lab, where they are measured and fitted with microchips so biologists can track them.

Aldecoa says that since the monitoring program started in 1978, biologists at the plant have handled some 5,000 hatchlings.