Written by Amanda Stansbury
Snooty has helped expand our understanding of the Florida manatee by participating in several research studies. To date Snooty has added to research in the following areas:
- Audition: Snooty’s first research experience began several years ago when he took part in a hearing test designed to assess the sensitivity of the manatee auditory system. Manatees have since been found to have excellent hearing as well as the ability to localize sound.
- Laterality: Humans exhibit preferences in the use of their right and left hands. Observations of Snooty behavior indicate that he does as well; preliminary research indicates that Snooty prefers to use his right flipper.
- Gustation: Manatees inhabit both salt and fresh water environments. Field observations indicate that manatees actively seek out fresh water to drink. How do manatees find freshwater? One possibility is that they can taste differences in salinity. Snooty is currently being trained to later assess his ability to discriminate between different gustatory sensations.
- Vocalization: The calls of Snooty and his tank mates are being recorded to assess several different characteristics of manatee vocalizations. Current research is investigating if vocalization rates correspond to specific behaviors and if manatee calls are individualized.
All research is done in cooperation with Florida Fish and Wildlife. No permit is required to work with Snooty because he was born before the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1973).