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Better Understanding Watercraft Collision Mortalities in the Florida West Indian Manatee (2010-2018)

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Camden Conte
Caleb Crawford

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Faculty Advisor: Dr. Timothy Henkel

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In the United States, the number one cause of death and injury for the manatee are watercraft collisions. During recent years, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has collected data from recovered manatee carcasses in Florida to better understand common causes of death for the manatee population in Florida. This data was used to determine whether watercraft collision mortality in manatees was dependent on sex (whether a male or female manatee carcass was recovered), county (counties in Florida where manatee carcasses were recovered), or month (time of the year a manatee carcass was recovered). Three chi-square tests were conducted in order to figure out if there was a significant relationship between each of these variables and watercraft collision mortalities in manatees. Data was modified to focus on the years 2010-2018. Data containing unidentified manatee carcasses, perinatal mortalities or counties with sample sizes smaller than n=30 were excluded in order to achieve more accurate statistical results. Statistical analysis was conducted in JMP. Results found that there was not a relationship between sex and watercraft collision mortality. However, it was found that there was a relationship between county and watercraft collision mortality. Likewise, there was a relationship between month and watercraft collision mortality. This research may assist in determining which counties in Florida need to improve boating law enforcement and raise more awareness about the impact boats have in their respective waters. Making these changes could help re-stabilize the Florida manatee population.

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Better Understanding Watercraft Collision Mortalities in the Florida West Indian Manatee (2010-2018)

In the United States, the number one cause of death and injury for the manatee are watercraft collisions. During recent years, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has collected data from recovered manatee carcasses in Florida to better understand common causes of death for the manatee population in Florida. This data was used to determine whether watercraft collision mortality in manatees was dependent on sex (whether a male or female manatee carcass was recovered), county (counties in Florida where manatee carcasses were recovered), or month (time of the year a manatee carcass was recovered). Three chi-square tests were conducted in order to figure out if there was a significant relationship between each of these variables and watercraft collision mortalities in manatees. Data was modified to focus on the years 2010-2018. Data containing unidentified manatee carcasses, perinatal mortalities or counties with sample sizes smaller than n=30 were excluded in order to achieve more accurate statistical results. Statistical analysis was conducted in JMP. Results found that there was not a relationship between sex and watercraft collision mortality. However, it was found that there was a relationship between county and watercraft collision mortality. Likewise, there was a relationship between month and watercraft collision mortality. This research may assist in determining which counties in Florida need to improve boating law enforcement and raise more awareness about the impact boats have in their respective waters. Making these changes could help re-stabilize the Florida manatee population.

Please contact usfsp-usfspstudentresearch@usf.edu to report comments