[MARMAM] New Publication: Can whale watching be a conduit for spreading educational and conservation messages?

Gabrille Lopez gabrille.lopez at gmail.com
Wed May 24 08:33:58 PDT 2017


Dear MARMAM community:

Dr. Pearson and I are pleased to announce the following publication through
Tourism in Marine Environments.

*Lopez, G. and Pearson, H. C. "Can whale watching be a conduit for
spreading educational and conservation messages? A case study in Juneau,
Alaska." Tourism in Marine Environments 12 (2).*


*Abstract*

Whale watching is growing in popularity, with over 100 countries
participating in different forms of whale- and dolphin-watching activities.
As the whale-watching industry increases, vessel traffic, as well as
encounters between cetaceans and people, will increase. Although there are
policies to reduce potential disturbance of the whales and/or dolphins,
tour companies often face pressure to please their customers. It is thereby
important to understand the experiences of passengers while recognizing the
educational and conservation messages whale watches can spread to their
passengers. Here, a case study of whale watching in Juneau, Alaska is
presented, which investigates passenger knowledge, experience, attitude,
and intentions regarding whales, whale watching, and conservation.
Self-administered paper and pencil multiple answer choice surveys and
researcher-administered interview surveys were conducted. The majority of
passengers gained most of their knowledge about whales from that day's
whale watch, had no awareness of NOAA guidelines/regulations, and had no
prior whale-watching experience. The top two determinants of whale-watching
quality were getting close to whales and seeing whales do interesting
behaviors. Most passengers placed high importance on seeing whales in the
wild and were very likely to tell friends and family about what was learned
on the tour. There was no significant relationship between awareness of
NOAA guidelines and previous whale-watching experience or the top
determinant of whale-watching quality (getting close to whales).
Additionally, there were no significant relationships between importance of
seeing whales in the wild and the likelihood of telling friends and family
about what they learned, or joining or donating to an environmental or
conservation organization. Interview surveys revealed a combination of
in-depth knowledge and biased perceptions of whales. This study reveals the
capacity for whale watching to advance public knowledge of cetaceans and
marine conservation and the importance of managing passenger expectations.

The article is available at https://doi.org/10.3727/154427316X14779456049821 .
If you would like a pdf or have any questions please email myself (
gabrille.lopez at gmail.com) or Dr. Pearson (hcpearson at alaska.edu).

Thank you,

*Gabrille Lopez*
*Logistics Coordinator and Naturalist*
Alaska Galore Tours & Harv and Marv's Outback Alaska
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