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Once Endangered Crocodiles Are Now Thriving Outside of a Nuclear Power Plant

If we’re to believe the headlines, there’s a whole crock of crazy alligator-related madness brewing in the southern US.

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Crocodiles Thriving Nuclear Power Plant
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(TMU) — If we’re to believe the headlines, there’s a whole crock of large reptilian madness brewing in the southern United States.

Earlier this month, police in Tennessee issued a tongue-in-cheek warning about the danger of so-called “meth-gators”—tweaker alligators spawned by methamphetamine dealers flushing their stashes down the toilet during drug busts.

And now, the Associated Press is reporting that American crocodiles who once faced extinction are thriving in an unlikely place: the canals that surround a nuclear power plant in South Florida.

With Godzilla 2 and the new horror film Crawl both nearing the top of box office charts over the past couple months, it would be nice to entertain the thought of nuclear-enhanced mutant reptiles stalking the land—but alas, southern Florida’s multitudes of crocodiles are neither monstrous nor radioactive.

Last week, 73 hatchlings belonging to the American crocodile or Crocodylus acutus species were discovered by specialists at Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) Turkey Point nuclear plant, and the researchers expect dozens more in coming days.

What makes the discovery remarkable is that the crocodiles, which were believed to be headed toward extinction, have been in such a swift state of recovery that their federal status was boosted in 2007 from “endangered” to “threatened.”

As it turns out, Turkey Point’s 168-mile complex of man-made canals that cool the nuclear power plant also comprise a thriving habitat for the species. Hundreds of American crocodiles reside in the complex, which lies near Biscayne National Park.

Around 25 percent of the 2,000 American Crocodiles within the U.S. now call Turkey Point home, in large part due to researchers from the Florida utility. For years, FPL monitors have been monitoring the crocs, hoping to protect the population from the ever-present threat of natural predators, climate change, and hunters who kill the peaceful creatures out of a desire for profit or irrational fear.

Biologists help create nests and ponds for crocodiles every year. They then find the hatchlings reared and left by their mothers, measure their growth and implant them with microchips to allow them to continue researching the croc colony.

FPL wildlife biologist and crocodile specialist Michael Lloret told AP:

“We entice crocodiles to come in to the habitats FPL created … We clear greenery on the berms so that the crocodiles can nest. Because of rising sea levels wasting nests along the coasts, Turkey Point is important for crocodiles to continue.”

Since its inception in 1978, the Turkey Point Monitoring Program has tagged well over 7,000 hatchlings. The FPL team’s methods have been hailed with helping the species rebound from endangerment.

Yet the species, like others around the globe, has been in a state of relative imbalance due to fast-heating climatic conditions in the region. The hotter the temperature, the more likely it will be that male crocodiles are hatched, Lloret noted. And since last month was the hottest June on record worldwide, this year’s hatchlings have been majority male.

The American crocodile can range in color from a grayish-yellow to brown, and can grow to a spectacular size of up to 15 feet and a weight of up to a full ton, or 2,000 pounds.

And while the idea of a booming crocodile population may seem frightening for film-goers with an over-active imagination, only one crocodile attack has ever been recorded in the U.S.—when a couple who swam in a South Florida canal were both bitten and survived.

Lloret noted that we humans have nothing to fear, provided we respect their space and safety:

“American crocodiles have a bad reputation when they are just trying to survive … They are shy and want nothing to do with us. Humans are too big to be on their menu.”

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Blue Whales Return to Spain’s Coast After Disappearing for 40 Years

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Blue whales have been returning to the Atlantic coast of Spain after an absence of over 40 years in the region, when whaling industries drove the species to the brink of extinction.

Blue whales, which are the world’s largest mammals, had long disappeared from the region until the recent sightings.

The first was spotted off the coast of Galicia near Ons Island by marine biologist Bruno Díaz, who heads the Bottlenose Dolphin Research.

Another one of the majestic creatures was spotted the following year in 2018 and yet another in 2019. In 2020, two whales again made their return to the area.

It remains unclear as of yet as to why the creatures have returned to the area, but controls on local whaling industries are believed to play a role.

“I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz remarked, according to the Guardian. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.”

Whaling had been a traditional industry in Galicia for hundreds of years before Spain finally acted to ban whaling in 1986, long after the blue whale’s presence in the region had faded away.

Some fear that the return of the massive sea mammals is a sign of global warming.

“I’m pessimistic because there’s a high possibility that climate change is having a major impact on the blue whale’s habitat,” said marine biologist Alfredo López in comments to La Voz de Galicia.

“Firstly, because they never venture south of the equator, and if global warming pushes this line north, their habitat will be reduced,” he continued “And secondly, if it means the food they normally eat is disappearing, then what we’re seeing is dramatic and not something to celebrate.”

Díaz said that while the data certainly supports this theory, it is too early to determine climate as the precise cause.

“It is true that the data we have points to this trend [climate change] but it is not enough yet,” he told Público news.

Another possibility is that the ancestral memory of the old creatures or even a longing for their home may offer an explanation, according to Díaz.

“In recent years it’s been discovered that the blue whale’s migration is driven by memory, not by environmental conditions,” he said. “This year there hasn’t been a notable increase in plankton, but here they are. Experiences are retained in the collective memory and drive the species to return.”

In recent years, researchers have found that migratory patterns are also driven by the cultural knowledge existing in many groups of species.

Researchers believe this type of folk memory, or cultural knowledge, exists in many species and is key to their survival.

A typical blue whale is 20-24 metres long and weighs 120 tonnes – equivalent to 16 elephants – but specimens of up to 30 metres and 170 tonnes have been found.

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