[MARMAM] New papers: Behavioural effects of swim-with-cetacean tourism

Dave Lundquist lundquistdave at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 1 20:39:37 PDT 2012

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the publication of the following two papers:


Lundquist, D., N. Gemmell, and B. Würsig. 2012. Behavioural responses of
dusky dolphin groups to tour vessels off Kaikoura, New Zealand.  PLoS ONE.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041969


Lundquist, D., M. Sironi, B. Würsig, V. Rowntree, J. Martino, and L.
Lundquist. 2012. Response of southern right whales to simulated
swim-with-whale tourism at Península Valdés, Argentina. Marine Mammal
Science. DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2012.00583.x


The first article is freely available via Open Access using the following


Requests for a PDF of the second article can be made to me at
lundquistdave at hotmail.com or accessed directly at:


Abstracts for both articles are below.



Dave Lundquist, Ph.D.

University of Otago


Behavioural responses of dusky dolphin groups (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) to
tour vessels off Kaikoura, New Zealand


Commercial viewing and swimming with dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus
obscurus) near Kaikoura, New Zealand began in the late 1980s and researchers
have previously described changes in vocalisation, aerial behaviour, and
group spacing in the presence of vessels. This study was conducted to assess
the current effects that tourism has on the activity budget of dusky
dolphins to provide wildlife managers with information for current
decision-making and facilitate development of quantitative criteria for
management of this industry in the future.


Methodology/Principal Findings

First-order time discrete Markov chain models were used to assess changes in
the behavioural state of dusky dolphin pods targeted by tour vessels.
Log-linear analysis was conducted on behavioural state transitions to
determine whether the likelihood of dolphins moving from one behavioural
state to another changed based on natural and anthropogenic factors. The
best-fitting model determined by Akaike Information Criteria values included
season, time of day, and vessel presence within 300 m. Interactions with
vessels reduced the proportion of time dolphins spent resting in spring and
summer and increased time spent milling in all seasons except autumn.
Dolphins spent more time socialising in spring and summer, when conception
occurs and calves are born, and the proportion of time spent resting was
highest in summer. Resting decreased and traveling increased in the



Responses to tour vessel traffic are similar to those described for dusky
dolphins elsewhere. Disturbance linked to vessels may interrupt social
interactions, carry energetic costs, or otherwise affect individual fitness.
Research is needed to determine if increased milling is a result of acoustic
masking of communication due to vessel noise, and to establish levels at
which changes to behavioural budgets of dusky dolphins are likely to cause
long-term harm. Threshold values from these studies would allow managers to
set appropriate operational conditions based on quantifiable criteria.


Response of southern right whales to simulated swim-with-whale tourism at
Península Valdés, Argentina


Guidelines for sustainable tourism involving swimming with large whales are
not well-developed compared to those focused on programs of swimming with
delphinids. From September to November 2005 and August to September 2006, we
collected behavioral and movement data for southern right whales (Eubalaena
australis) exposed to interactions with boats and swimmers at Península
Valdés, Argentina. Whales were tracked from shore using a theodolite before,
during, and after a series of directed interactions with swimmers and a
boat. Resting, socializing, and surface active behavior decreased, traveling
increased, and whales swam faster and reoriented more often during
interactions. Responses were variable by age/sex class, with mother/calf
pairs showing strongest responses. Increased levels of tourism activity are
a concern, as reduction in resting time and disruption of socialization
among adults, juveniles, and mother/calf pairs have unknown long-term
consequences. Additional data should be collected for whale behavior in
proposed tourism and non-tourism areas to build a long-term database which
can be used to determine if reactions of whales change over time. Our data
suggest that swimming with whales in Chubut Province should not be legalized
until further investigations are completed, especially in light of the
recent southern right whale die-offs recorded in Península Valdés.


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