Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date

12-2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

Department

Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Edward O. Keith

Second Advisor

Curtis M. Burney

Third Advisor

Allan D. Sosnow

Abstract

The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, is one of the most endangered marine mammals in United States waters. The Florida manatee is the only manatee that ranges into subtropical and temperate regions. During the winter months manatees adopt a “refuging strategy” where they aggregate at warm-water sources immediately following decreases in the ambient water temperature to below 20° C (68° F) in order to avoid cold stress syndrome (CSS). During the winter manatees aggregate in warm water refuges, including natural warm water springs and the effluent discharges of power plants.

The purpose of this study was to determine the number of manatees that aggregate and utilize the waters of the Florida Power and Light (FPL) Plant in Port Everglades (PPE), Florida, its effluent canal, and the surrounding Intracoastal Waterway during the winter months. This study documents the importance of Port Everglades as a wintering refuge for the Florida manatee. This study analyzed the inverse relationship between the number of manatees present at a warm water effluent and water temperature.

In this study data were collected over five manatee winter seasons (between 15 November and 31 March) from 1999-2004, from both boat-based and land-based surveys monitoring the presence of manatees in the effluent canal from the FPL electricity generating facility in Port Everglades, FL and the Intracoastal Waterway. Findings indicated that there was an inverse relationship between the number of manatees present and water temperature, where more manatees were present in cooler months, and fewer in warmer months. This study also analyzed the parameters of Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE) as well as heating degree-days and their effect on and relationship to the number of manatees present. The higher the heating degree-days number, the more severe, or cold, winter this indicates. The year with the highest heating degree-days, 24.98, was the 2002-2003 season, which was also the season with the highest number of manatees observed, 393, and the highest CPUE, 10.62 manatees/day.

ORCID ID

F-8810-2011, 0000-0001-8081-8897

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