Would Prop Guards Help Protect Manatees?
Manatee mother and calf by David R. Schrichte
(Photo © David R. Schrichte)

Q. Would manatees be protected if propeller guards were required on all boats in Florida?
--Stewart Loeblich, Florida

A. Propeller guards are a good idea to protect manatees, but only if they are used along with other protection measures, such as boat speed zones, enforcement, and habitat protection. Historically, people have equated propeller guards with being able to roll back speed zone protections for manatees. They have not understood that impact trauma from the boat's hull or propeller (or propeller guard), called "blunt force trauma," is often more deadly than the cuts from the propellers themselves. That's why propeller guards are no substitution for slow and idle speed zones. While propeller guards could help minimize manatee injuries and deaths, they are not a stand-alone protection measure.

--Katie Tripp, Ph.D.
Director of Science and Conservation, Save the Manatee Club

Get more Manatee FAQ