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Quantifying wildlife-watching ecotourism intensity on an endangered marine vertebrate

Schofield, G., Scott, R., Katselidis, K.A., Mazaris, A.D. and Hays, G.C. 2015, Quantifying wildlife-watching ecotourism intensity on an endangered marine vertebrate, Animal conservation, vol. 18, no. 6, pp. 517-528, doi: 10.1111/acv.12202.

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Title Quantifying wildlife-watching ecotourism intensity on an endangered marine vertebrate
Author(s) Schofield, G.
Scott, R.
Katselidis, K.A.
Mazaris, A.D.
Hays, G.C.ORCID iD for Hays, G.C. orcid.org/0000-0002-3314-8189
Journal name Animal conservation
Volume number 18
Issue number 6
Start page 517
End page 528
Total pages 12
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2015-12
ISSN 1367-9430
1469-1795
Keyword(s) Disturbance
Free-ranging
Limits of acceptable change
Non-consumptive recreation
Product market
Spatial analysis
Wilderness management
Wildlife watching
Summary Here, we show how seasonal changes in animal density drive strategic shifts in the activities of wildlife-watching operators. These shifts result in high viewing intensity when animal densities are low, highlighting the need for modifications to existing wildlife-watching guidelines. We used the endangered loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta as a model species that exhibits staggered departure from an important breeding area (Zakynthos, Greece, Mediterranean) over a 2-month period (July to August) when tourism is at a peak, to investigate changes in wildlife-watching strategies, zoning effectiveness and voluntary guideline compliance over time. We used a combination of direct land-based observations, global positioning system tracking (of wildlife-watching vessels and turtles) and models. The modelled number of turtles present in the breeding area decreased from >200 in July to <50 in August, while the intensity of turtle-viewing increased from a mean 1.5 to 6.1 wildlife-watching vessels per turtle-viewing event (i.e. concurrent and consecutive vessels observing a single turtle) over the same period, respectively. During this period, the wildlife-watching strategy changed and compliance to guidelines reduced (exacerbated by recreational vessels). However, wildlife-watching activity was limited to a highly restricted 0.95-km2 nearshore area, overlapping with just 9.5% of the core habitat area used by turtles. Our results have broad implications (whale watching etc.) by showing the importance of taking the number of animals available for viewing into consideration when assessing wildlife-watching activity and when designing viewing guidelines, particularly for populations where numbers noticeably fluctuate.
Language eng
DOI 10.1111/acv.12202
Field of Research 060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 960808 Marine Flora
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, Wiley
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30081064

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