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Our Research/Tourism Effects last updated 08 June 2005
the effects of tourism on marine mammals
sperm whale at Kaikoura

Tourism has potential costs and benefits. The challenge is to make sure that the educational benefits outweigh the potential impacts on the animals.

The effects of tourism on behaviour, movements and sound production has been the focus of our research projects on sperm whales, dusky, bottlenose and Hector’s dolphins in the presence and absence of boats and swimmers. All the populations we have studied show clear effects of disturbance. In some cases these disturbances appear to be minor. In other cases the effects are potentially serious.

Several of our studies have directly led to changes in management of tourism. For example, the dusky dolphins at Kaikoura now have a "time out" period during the middle of the day. There is a time limit on how long tour boats can stay with Hector's dolphins in Porpoise Bay, and there are plans for a marine mammal sanctuary at Porpoise Bay. The Department of Conservation recently decided not to grant more permits for watching sperm whales at Kaikoura for at least the next 10 years. They are basing their decision partly on research that we have just completed, and Trust researchers were consulted for advice.

Publications and reports

  • Lusseau, D. and Slooten, E. Cetacean sightings off the Fiordland coastline: Analysis of commercial marine mammal viewing data 1996-99. Science for Conservation 187. Published by Department of Conservation, Wellington (2002).
  • Barr, K. and Slooten, E. Effects of tourism on dusky dolphins at Kaikoura. Conservation Advisory Science Notes: 229, Department of Conservation (1999).
  • Bejder, L., Dawson, S.M. & Harraway, J. Responses of Hector’s dolphins to boats and swimmers in Porpoise Bay, New Zealand. Marine Mammal Science 15 (3): 738-750. 1999.

For a list of general Trust associated publications and reports on marine mammals and marine mammal ecology, click here. To find out about the people involved in this research, see the University of Otago Marine Mammal Research Group web site.

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