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Boat and Propeller Strike Tests Model Turtles But Not People

Earlier we pointed out the fallacies of CED’s propeller guard testing at SUNY’s circular tank not using a boat AND using chimes to represent people in The Emperor Has No Boat.

We came across an interesting article this weekend describing a joint Georgia Tech / Georgia Department of Natural Resouces (DNR) project using a boat to run over engineered models of turtles. Their earlier work was recently published in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology:

Influence of Small Vessel Operation and Propulsion System on Loggerhead Sea Turtle Injuries. Paul A. Work. Adam L. Sapp, David W. Scott, and Mark G. Dodd. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. Volume 393. Issues 1-2. September 2010. Pages 168-175.

The researcher are continuing their project on the Ogeechee River near Bloomingdale Georgia per a 6 August 2011 article in SavannahNow titled, Engineered Turtles Take the Hit for Science in Bloomingdale.

They use resin covered foam shells to represent turtles, tether them just blow the surface, and run over them with a DNR law enforcement boat. The researchers are comparing strikes from boats, propellers, jet boats, and propeller guards to study exactly how boats and motors injure turtles and how to prevent those injuries. Does that sound familiar?

The tested boat strikes, prop strikes, jet boats, Prop Buddy Propeller Guard strikes, strikes by an Adventure Marine line guard, and Hydroshield (sort of a whale tale) strikes. This year they are working on improving their engineered turtle model to better represent a real turtle. As part of the testing, the are also using some deceased turtles that were previously frozen, then thawed for this experiment.

The previously published technical paper was partially based on Adam Sapp’s thesis at Georgia Tech, Influence of Small Vessel Operation and Propulsion System on Loggerhead Turtle Injuries. May 2010.

While the Georgia Tech and Georgia DNR research is obviously still a work in progress, we commend them for their efforts in trying to better understand the turtle/boat collision process and how to reduce turtle injuries by using a real boat and engineered models for turtles. This is a stark contrast to USCG /CED efforts just running an outboard suspended about a circular track with no boat hull into some hanging chimes.

We also recently reported in others modeling boat and propeller strikes of right whales, Hydrodynamics of Propeller Accidents Part 2 – Right Whale Collision Research. Hopefully, someday humans will be seen as worthy of such efforts as well.

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