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UF researchers to map boating patterns

Florida, US: One of the world’s most endangered whale species head south towards Georgia and Florida to give birth. During that trip, North Atlantic right whales face two major threats: fishing gear and boats. Hence, University of Florida (UF) researchers are embarking on a two-year study that is the first attempt to map boating traffic patterns in the northeast Florida area.

Mapping those patterns could, in turn, allow whale managers to better focus outreach efforts and more accurately assess the effects of future marine-related projects on protected species.

The UF researchers, Bob Swett and Charles Sidman, will use GIS technology to better understand boater travel patterns off the coasts of St. Johns, Duval and Nassau counties. The work will begin with boater surveys, answering questions about their usual routes and seasonal boating habits.

The researchers will also take to the air to log positions and characteristics of recreational boats. Then, all of the information will become part of a graphic representation that will help managers and policy makers understand what’s happening in area waterways.

Source: University of Florida