DISL studies impact of water construction on manatees – WKRG News 5
MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – The Dauphin Island Sea Lab Manatee Watch Network just published an article in the Journal of Wildlife Management on the impact of bridges and other construction projects in the water such as boat launches, docks, harbors and dredging. wildlife, including manatees, in our waterways.
With many large local water projects, including the possible construction of the Mobile River Bridge, the Manatee Sighting Network is providing data to a report that describes how the project could impact the environment.
“Things like increased risk of collision with ships… there are a lot more water activities in the area. Materials can also block access to resources like vegetation for manatees. Or could potentially cause entanglement or ingestion hazards if building materials are not disposed of properly, ”says Elizabeth Hieb of the Manatee Sighting Network. Pile driving and dredging also stirs up the water and can eventually release contaminants and negatively impact the manatee’s food sources.
Hieb says manatee sightings have increased over the past decade. Fifty to one hundred manatees are estimated to reside seasonally in our waterways. The data has also shown that manatees stay longer and that these animals can tell us a lot about our surroundings.
“We like to see manatees doing well because it’s a great indicator of how the ecosystem is changing. In a place like Alabama or Mississippi where manatees are using these waters more and more… Maybe we’re not as used to worrying about them when we’re doing construction, ”Hieb said.
Hieb says training construction crews to find manatees, properly cleaning up building materials, and planning ahead can really help reduce the risk to these animals.
To report a manatee sighting, click here or call 1-866-493-5803.