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Whale Shark Tourism in Ningaloo Marine Park, Australia

Posted on 02 August 2011

TitleWhale Shark Tourism in Ningaloo Marine Park, Australia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsDavis, D
Date Published01/1998
Keywordshuman use, Ningaloo, socio-economy, tourism, whale sharks
AbstractInteractions between tourists and marine animals have become increasingly popular in recent years. Since 1993 a new tourism industry, based on swimming with whale sharks, has developed in Ningaloo Marine Park, off the coast of Western Australia. This is the only known, accessible place in the world where whale sharks congregate in significant numbers. Certain results from surveys of participants in the 'whale shark experience,' undertaken in 1995 and 1996, are reported, with a focus on management questions relating to human-to-shark separation distances, swimmers making contact with sharks, satisfaction with the experience, and the numbers of swimmers in the water. While the rules on separation distances were changed between the years, statistical analyses indicate that satisfaction with the experience did not change (F(1,671)=1.25, p>0.05). Resulting from the rule changes, swimmers did not get so close to sharks in 1996 (F(1,671)=273.41, p<0.05), nor were they as concerned about the number of other people in the water (F(1,671)=16.10, p<0.05). It is concluded that a simple change to the regulation on separation distances resulted in improved human experiences and potentially less interference with the animals.
Refereed DesignationRefereed