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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 3:295-304 (2007)  -  DOI:

Slower boat speeds reduce risks to manatees

C. Scott Calleson*, R. Kipp Frohlich

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Imperiled Species Management Section, 620 S. Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399, USA

ABSTRACT: Collisions with boats account for approximately 25% of all documented manatee Trichechus manatus latirostris deaths in Florida. The state of Florida, as well as the US Fish and Wildlife Service and various local governments, have established boat speed limits in areas frequented by manatees as a means of reducing risks. Boat speed limits are believed to reduce risks in 3 primary ways: (1) greater reaction time for the boat operator; (2) greater reaction time for the manatee; and (3) reduced severity of injuries in the event that a manatee is hit by a boat. We review the current research and other available information that forms the conceptual basis for this risk reduction method and also examine the primary objections that have been raised against requiring slower boat speeds. The available information supports the position that reducing boat speeds in specific areas is an appropriate, reasonable, and defensible management action. Additional research on how manatees detect and respond to boats would be very useful, as would further empirical studies assessing the effectiveness of existing boat speed limits.

KEY WORDS: Florida manatee · Trichechus manatus latirostris · Waterway management · Boat speed zones · Risk reduction

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Cite this article as: Calleson CS, Kipp Frohlich R (2007) Slower boat speeds reduce risks to manatees. Endang Species Res 3:295-304.

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