Manatee and Boat Research

Although the manatee population is increasing, around 100 sea cows are killed each year in Florida, but with new technology, will slow zones be necessary in the future?

Tuesday we talked with an FSU researcher who's been diving into this question.

An alarm signal is used to see how whales off the coast of Florida would respond. Some have hoped sending an alert signal would keep the whales from being struck by vessels and into harm's way.

FSU oceanography professor Doug Nowacek has also found manatees respond to the sound of boats.

“Best we can deduce is that they hear the boat, but what they did was swim toward the boat channel, which is not optimal,” says Doug.

“They get cut up under the propeller, crushed, that is the number one cause of preventable death,” adds Henry Cabbage of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

So with alarms failing and the sounds of boats waving, the professor says abiding the rules of slow zones is scientifically the only answer for now.

Violating the rules of a slow zone carry a fine of $50 in Florida.