Boat alarm that is. The unusual title of this blog purposed to catch your attention will explain itself. To gain a better understanding of just how sensitive a manatee’s hearing can be, allow me to pose a couple of questions to you:
Where Are The Manatee’s Ears?
These are common questions on our manatee tours. Unlike off shore dive and fishing tours where the Captain is up on the fly bridge or unable to speak because of a noisy motor, our manatee snorkel tours are conducted on a quiet pontoon boat that does not exceed idle speed.
For this reason, it’s easy to converse and our captains make every effort to encourage questions and provide you with an educational eco tour. One of the most common curiosities is the manatee’s hearing acuity.
How Do Their Ears Work?
If you haven’t already jumped off this blog to view pictures of manatees ears, which are a very small opening located about four inches behind the eye, the ears of the manatee are internally very large, allowing them to hear sounds a long way off and keep a distance from perceived threats, communicate with calves, or respond to a variety of sounds emitted by an amorous male or responsive female.
The most common sound is the high-pitched chirping between the mother and calf, one that the calf recognizes from birth. There may be more than one reason that this essential communication is a high frequency.
Low and High-Frequency Capabilities
An article was recently published citing the results of research conducted by Edmund Gerstein and his wife from Florida Atlantic University Research Group Leviathan Legacy, Inc. They have discovered that manatees are not that good at hearing low frequencies, but “are good at detecting high-frequency noises, most successfully between 16,000 and 18000 Hz.
With this in mind, they developed a submerged alarm system that shoots a beam of high-frequency sound from the front of the boat, warning manatees to steer clear. Studies were also done that showed manatees reacted to boat alarms 39 out of 41 times, swimming away from the high-pitched frequencies at a distance of over 60 feet.
Considering that most human caused manatee deaths are from the impact of a high-speed boat, allowing too little time for manatees to move out of the way, a warning system would be an amazing tool in efforts to save the manatees. This alarm could possibly be sold for under $100 if manufactured, a small investment for the gentle giant manatees.
To learn more about one of Florida’s most celebrated and protected species, or to schedule a manatee boat or dive tour, visit our booking page, or call (352) 563-2763.