Increased use levels, effort, and spatial distribution of tourists swimming with dwarf minke whales at the Great Barrier Reef

Curnock, Matthew I., Birtles, R. Alastair, and Valentine, Peter S. (2013) Increased use levels, effort, and spatial distribution of tourists swimming with dwarf minke whales at the Great Barrier Reef. Tourism in Marine Environments, 9 (1-2). pp. 5-17.

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Abstract

A permitted tourism industry has developed at the Great Barrier Reef based on swimming with dwarf minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata subsp.). Using sightings reported by tourism operators and vessel effort data, this study found a 91% increase in the number of whale encounters over six seasons (2003-2008), and a small number of encounter ‘hotspots’ accounted for a substantial proportion of these encounters. Analysis of industry effort data revealed that a shift in effort among existing permitted operators was the most likely cause of the increase in whale encounters. Although the number of permitted operators has remained capped since permits were introduced in 2003, this study found substantial latent capacity in these permits. Further research is needed to identify social carrying capacity related issues for high use areas targeted for minke whale encounters, and it is recommended that the number of permits not be increased while the potential for cumulative impacts of tourist interactions on whales remains unknown.

Item ID: 24944
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: use levels, dwarf minke whales, encounters, permits, latent capacity
ISSN: 1544-273X
Funders: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2013 22:58
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management @ 33%
15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1506 Tourism > 150601 Impacts of Tourism @ 34%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 33%
SEO Codes: 90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900399 Tourism not elsewhere classified @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 34%
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