[MARMAM] NEW ARTICLE: Behavioural Effects of Tourism on Oceanic Common Dolphins in New Zealand

Anna Meissner anna.meissner at gmail.com
Wed Jan 14 01:12:04 PST 2015

Dear MARMAM colleagues,

On behalf of my co-authors I am pleased to announce the publication of the
following paper:

Meissner AM, Christiansen F, Martinez E, Pawley MDM, Orams MB (2015)
Behavioural Effects of Tourism on Oceanic Common Dolphins, *Delphinus* sp.,
in New Zealand: The Effects of Markov Analysis Variations and Current Tour
Operator Compliance with Regulations. PLoS ONE 10(1): e0116962.


Common dolphins, *Delphinus* sp., are one of the marine mammal species
tourism operations in New Zealand focus on. While effects of
cetacean-watching activities have previously been examined in coastal
regions in New Zealand, this study is the first to investigate effects of
commercial tourism and recreational vessels on common dolphins in an open
oceanic habitat. Observations from both an independent research vessel and
aboard commercial tour vessels operating off the central and east coast Bay
of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand were used to assess dolphin behaviour
and record the level of compliance by permitted commercial tour operators
and private recreational vessels with New Zealand regulations. Dolphin
behaviour was assessed using two different approaches to Markov chain
analysis in order to examine variation of responses of dolphins to vessels.
Results showed that, regardless of the variance in Markov methods, dolphin
foraging behaviour was significantly altered by boat interactions. Dolphins
spent less time foraging during interactions and took significantly longer
to return to foraging once disrupted by vessel presence. This research
raises concerns about the potential disruption to feeding, a biologically
critical behaviour. This may be particularly important in an open oceanic
habitat, where prey resources are typically widely dispersed and
unpredictable in abundance. Furthermore, because tourism in this region
focuses on common dolphins transiting between adjacent coastal locations,
the potential for cumulative effects could exacerbate the local effects
demonstrated in this study. While the overall level of compliance by
commercial operators was relatively high, non-compliance to the regulations
was observed with time restriction, number or speed of vessels interacting
with dolphins not being respected. Additionally, prohibited swimming with
calves did occur. The effects shown in this study should be carefully
considered within conservation management plans, in order to reduce the
risk of detrimental effects on common dolphins within the region.

A copy of the article can be downloaded at:

Please do not hesitate to contact me at anna.meissner at gmail.com if you are
unable to download it.

Kindest regards,

Anna Meissner

Anna M. Meissner
PhD student
Coastal-Marine Research Group
Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences
Massey University
Private Bag 102 904
North Shore City, 0745
Auckland, New Zealand

Tel: +64 9 414 0800 ext 41520
Cell: +64 22 603 6646
Fax: +64 9 443 9790

Email: a.m.meissner at massey.ac.nz
Web: http://cmrg.massey.ac.nz
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