HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Marine Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

David Kerstetter

Second Advisor

Curtis Burney

Third Advisor

T. Patrick Quinn


The threatened Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) migrates seasonally to warm-water refugia throughout the state of Florida due to metabolic requirements from low thermal conductance. Broward County’s two power plant refugia, Port Everglades (PEP) and Lauderdale (LPP), are known heavily-utilized aggregation sites for the Atlantic sub-population. Broward County collected relative abundance counts via aerial surveys from 2004–2013 siting 31,418 manatees during 169 surveys within 18 defined waterway zones. Counts during manatee wintering seasons were significantly different from January 2005-March 2008 and November 2008-March 2013, likely related to flight path and frequency standardization. Mean percentage of adults (90.12%) to calves (9.88%) demonstrates a higher usage by cow-calf pairs than other aggregation sites. Counts of manatees traveling south to Miami-Dade County comprised only 0.83% of all aerial counts, contrary to the theory of the extensive usage of Biscayne Bay foraging grounds. The LPP zone had 57.21% of all manatees with Port Everglades Inlet zone accounting for 23.88% and the South Fork New River zone with 5.95%. This study provided a baseline for pre-construction distributions prior to Port Everglades plant reenergization. With PEP construction now finished and LPP planned for reenergization in the next 10 years, monitoring data studies be compared to these baseline data to better assess the impact of the disruption of Broward County’s main refugia sources.