The Manatee Protection Systems (MPS) Program provides research, design and manufacturing of manatee protection sensor systems for water control structures.
The Florida Manatee is an endangered species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Florida Marine Sanctuary Act of 1978. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service coordinates the Manatee Recovery Plan, and one part of the plan is a reduction of manatee fatalities caused by Flood Control Gates and Navigation Locks.
The MPS Team has developed two solutions in use by the South Florida Water Management District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
- The piezo-electric-detection sensor is designed to prevent manatees from being crushed beneath the vertical-lift gates used for water control along Florida's Southeast coast. The sensor, resembling a speed bump bolted to the concrete canal floor, can reject the turbulent flow of water (and debris) beneath the gate and yet only requires the manatee to contact the bumper with a force of 18 lbs in order to trigger an alarm and open the gate.
- The acoustic detection sensor system is used on the navigation lock gates. An array of sound transmitters are attached to one gate and a matching array of receivers attached to the opposing gate. When the manatee swims between the closing gates, the sound waves in the water are blocked and the alarm triggers the gate to stop and reopen.
MPS sensor development is ongoing.