Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Aviation Systems

Major Professor

Uwe P. Solies

Committee Members

Borja Martos, Monty Smith


Researchers in Florida are attempting to improve the methods of collecting data for manatee population surveys. Standard line-transect survey methods are not appropriate for the narrow warm-water aggregations sites where these surveys are to take place. Researchers hope to obtain population estimates at three warm-water manatee refuge sites: TECO (Tampa Electric Company), FPL (Florida Power Plant, Cape Canaveral), and the Three Sisters Sanctuary (Crystal River)

The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not the Axis 221 Camera onboard the UTSI Piper Navajo is adequate for obtaining suitable images for use in population estimates. In order for the system to be determined useful, the flight tests must show that the following criteria is met. First, the video system must be capable of capturing images with sufficient quality to distinguish and count manatees while flying within the given parameters. Second, the flight team and equipment must be capable of flying the necessary flight paths while capturing the required area.

Third, the aircraft and team must be capable of flying the desired flight paths in a timely manner, to accommodate for manatee behavior and time at surface. And finally, the system must be capable of capturing surface temperature. The last two criteria (timeliness and surface temperature) are necessary information for researchers to determine a detection probability.

The data collected during two local flight tests was analyzed to assess the video system and flight team. Flight test one collected video of a parking lot and runway using objects of known size to estimate video quality. Surface temperature was also collected. Flight test two collected video over a waterway to assess the cameras field of view and the timeliness of the mission. Results indicated the flight team and video system will be sufficient for a future Florida mission at an altitude of 300 meters (about 1,000 ft).

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."