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HOME > PAST ISSUE > March-April 2002 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

Manatees, Bioacoustics and Boats

Hearing tests, environmental measurements and acoustic phenomena may together explain why boats and animals collide

Edmund Gerstein

The West Indian manatee, an aquatic mammal that has survived in warm nearshore waters for about 50 million years, is now an endangered species particularly prone to collisions with boats. In Florida, boaters are required to slow down or idle in areas seasonally frequented by manatees. But collisions continue, and the first bioacoustic studies done with manatees show that this strategy is often ineffective and may occasionally be counterproductive given the low-frequency hearing abilities of the manatees, their acoustic environment and the turbidity of shallow waters along Florida’s coasts. Gerstein describes results of acoustical studies and the development of a possible manatee warning device.


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