Scientific Literature: Searchable Database

Compliance of dolphin ecotours to marine mammal viewing guidelines


Hooper, Lindsay K.; Tyson Moore, Reny B.; Boucquey, Noëlle; McHugh, Katherine A.; Fuentes, Mariana M. P. B.




Journal of Sustainable Tourism






bottlenose dolphin, compliance, florida, guidelines, Management, questionnaire, tursiops truncatus, USA, whale watching


AbstractEcotour compliance to viewing guidelines should be evaluated holistically, considering actual and perceived compliance levels, as well as boat captain and passenger knowledge of the guidelines. This multi-faceted approach was used to assess ecotour compliance levels to the NOAA marine mammal viewing guidelines while interacting with bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Southwest Florida. Ecotour compliance was assessed via observations of boat-based dolphin ecotours in 2019. Captain and passenger knowledge and opinions of the guidelines were obtained through questionnaires, as well as captains? perceived compliance and how compliance affected passenger experience. Ecotour captains violated an average of 44% of the guidelines. Captains generally knew and supported the guidelines, as well as knew when they were being noncompliant, with 75% demonstrating equally perceived and observed compliance levels. This may reflect a lack of understanding of the cumulative effects of noncompliance on dolphins. Passengers supported the guidelines and valued compliance but did not have enough knowledge about the guidelines to recognize captain violations. Most passengers were willing to pay more for compliant tours, and 84% reported that guideline violations would negatively affect their trip. Our findings can inform management and outreach initiatives in the region to increase compliance.
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