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Global shark currency: The distribution frequency and economic value of shark ecotourism

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Ecotourism represents a highly popularised activity which has exhibited global growth in recent years. In the present paper, we examine the distribution, frequency, and economic value of shark-based ecotourism operations worldwide. A total of 376 shark ecotour operations across 83 locations and 8 geographic regions were identified. Here we describe the global and regional scope of the industry; determine the species utilised in shark ecotourism activities; and examine the recreational usage values of sharks. Further, we conducted a case study of a shark tourism operation based in South Africa by analysing 12 years of demographical and economical data, revealing increasing trends in the total number of customers served and cost per trip over the sampling period. We also compare consumptive and non-consumptive values of shark resources and discuss the potential research and conservation implications of the industry to sharks worldwide.
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Global shark currency: the distribution, frequency, and economic
value of shark ecotourism
Austin J. Gallagher
and Neil Hammerschlag
Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, University of Miami, P.O.
Box 248203, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA;
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric
Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, FL, 33149, USA;
Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway,
Miami, FL 33149, USA
(Received 10 March 2011; final version received 26 April 2011)
Ecotourism represents a highly popularised activity which has exhibited global growth
in recent years. In the present paper, we examine the distribution, frequency, and
economic value of shark-based ecotourism operations worldwide. A total of 376
shark ecotour operations across 83 locations and 8 geographic regions were
identified. Here we describe the global and regional scope of the industry; determine
the species utilised in shark ecotourism activities; and examine the recreational usage
values of sharks. Further, we conducted a case study of a shark tourism operation
based in South Africa by analysing 12 years of demographical and economical data,
revealing increasing trends in the total number of customers served and cost per trip
over the sampling period. We also compare consumptive and non-consumptive values
of shark resources and discuss the potential research and conservation implications of
the industry to sharks worldwide.
Keywords: ecotourism; shark diving; biodiversity preservation; shark; economic
Ecosystem capital is the sum of all the goods and services provided to global human enter-
prises by natural systems. These services are conservatively valued at US$41 trillion per
year (Wright & Boorse, 2008). Furthermore, such capital depends on the maintenance of
ecosystem biodiversity and resilience; nevertheless, many natural systems are experiencing
severe losses in both (Dunne, Williams, & Martinez, 2002; Pearce & Moran, 1996;
Tittensor et al., 2010; Worm et al., 2007). The drivers of these losses are numerous and
include growing anthropogenic threats in the form of (but not limited to) habitat destruction,
invasive species, pollution, climate change, and overfishing (e.g. Wilcove, Rothstein,
Dubow, Phillips, & Losos, 1998; Worm et al., 2006; Worm & Lotze, 2009). Removing
species from habitats can lead to small-scale extirpation and subsequent shifts in food-
web dynamics; however, the targeted removal of keystone and/or ecologically important
species may be detrimental to ecosystem structure and function, thus impacting biodiversity
ISSN 1368-3500 print/ISSN 1747-7603 online
#2011 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/13683500.2011.585227
Corresponding author. Email:
Current Issues in Tourism
2011, iFirst article, 1– 16
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and resilience, ultimately diminishing ecosystem capital (Dunne et al., 2002; Myers, Baum,
Shepherd, Powers, & Peterson, 2007; Paine, 1969; Parsons, 1992; Wright & Boorse, 2008).
As the exhaustion of natural systems continues to alter ecosystem capital, the value of
non-consumptive usage of these natural resources becomes increasingly important in
shaping conservation efforts at the local, regional, and international level (Bra¨uer, 2003;
McNeely, 1990; Perrings, Folke, & Maler, 1992).
Species in their natural environments support a variety of recreational activities and
aesthetic interests including fishing, hiking, snorkeling, and photography, just to name a few.
Nature-based tourism, often referred to as ecotourism (yet treated the same for the purposes
of this paper), has become increasingly popular in recent decades and has been described as
one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry (Scheyvens, 1999; Wearing &
Neil, 2009). Ecotourism is broadly defined as an ‘environmentally responsible, enlightening
travel to a relatively undisturbed or natural area to enjoy and appreciate nature’ (Ceballos-
Lascurain, 1996). Established ecotourism operations present visitors with new and exciting
ways to experience nature in exchange for money (Liu, 2003; Wearing & Neil, 2009).
While various species sustain nature-based tourism markets, it is the large and charismatic
species (including predators) which arguably draw the most attention (i.e. whales, eagles, big
cats, sharks) from tourists. Despite their general popularity among tourists, the numbers of
threatened and endangered species (notably marine species) continues to rise (IUCN, 2009;
Liu, 1994); and marine apex-predators, particularly sharks, have experienced population
declines globally in the last few decades (Baum et al., 2003; Burgess et al., 2005; Dulvy
et al., 2008; Ferretti, Myers, Serena, & Lotze, 2008; Worm et al., 2006). For example,
shark populations on the US east coast have declined an estimated 80– 90% since the mid-
1980s, as a result of target and non-target fisheries (Baum & Blanchard, 2010; Baum et al.,
2003; Clarke, Magnussen, Abercrombie, McAllister, & Shivji, 2006; Myers et al., 2007).
Many shark species are inherently vulnerable to population decreases as a result of overexploi-
tation due to their general life-history characteristics (i.e. slow growth, late to reach sexual
maturity). As of 2010, an estimated 15% of shark species were listed as critically endangered,
endangered, or vulnerable (IUCN, 2010), with an estimated one-third of all pelagic (open
ocean) sharks faced with extinction (IUCN, 2009). Furthermore, the continued harvest of
these keystone and/or ecologically important species is largely due to their high economic
value in various global markets (i.e. shark finning; Figure 1(a)), presenting both existing
and potential future users with hard-to-ignore fiscal incentives to target sharks.
Figure 1. Consumptive and non-consumptive uses of shark resources. (a) Prized shark fins on display
in a Hong Kong market, likely originating from a large hammerhead (Sphyrna spp.) or white shark
(Carcharodon carcharias), photo taken September 2010 (photo J. Gallagher). (b) Oceanic white-tip
shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) with diver during shark ecotourism operation in the Bahamas.
2A.J. Gallagher and N. Hammerschlag
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In contrast to harvesting, sharks also provide non-consumptive use potential. In recent
years, there has been a surge in shark-directed ecotourism, presenting users with opportu-
nities to observe, photograph, and interact with these marine predators (Orams, 2002;
Topelko & Dearden, 2005; Figure 1(b)). Accordingly, there have been several recent
studies evaluating both economic and ecological impacts of shark ecotourism (e.g.
Catlin, Jones, Jones, Norman, & Wood, 2010; Malkjovic
´, 2011). Many of these
reports, however, have focused on a particular species in a given region, leaving a gap in
our knowledge of the global breadth of the shark ecotourism industry.
The present paper provides a global examination of the distribution and frequency of the
shark-based ecotourism industry. Although shark ecotourism can include onboard obser-
vations and catch & release angling, here we focus solely on in-water ecotourism activities
(e.g. diving or snorkeling). Specific areas addressed in this paper include: (1) describing the
size and scope of the industry; (2) identifying heavily used regions for these activities; (3)
identifying the species utilised in shark ecotourism; and (4) discussing the recreational
usage value of sharks. Based on our analyses, we evaluate the relative economic importance
of shark-based ecotourism at a global scale and the potential implications of the industry to
shark conservation.
Tourism has long been one of the most important components of online commerce, and the
Internet remains a predominant driver for the economic decisions of tourists when planning
vacations and excursions (Milano, Baggio, & Piatrelli, 2011; Werthner & Ricci, 2004).
Accordingly, this large database may contain novel data useful in both addressing the scope
of the shark ecotourism industry and its relative economic value. From October to November
2010, we performed extensive Internet searches (using to identify
locations directly linked to the shark ecotourism operations, using the following key words:
‘shark ecotourism’, ‘shark diving’, ‘shark trips’, ‘shark operations’, ‘shark photography’,
and ‘shark encounters’. After preliminary locations and operations were identified, we then
ran subsequent searches by region (and associated species) to further identify ecotourism
companies promoting sharks as a recreational resource. We also included operations based
on verbal and written communications with marine-based tourism industries.
The overarching criterion used to identify an established shark ecotourism operation
was whether an individual company specifically advertised shark encounters as an associ-
ated service. Components of an operation which met this criteria generally included: (a) a
banner on the website homepage featuring a shark image and/or text advertising a shark
encounter; (b) operations directly promoting a specific shark ‘adventure’, ‘encounter’, or
‘package’; (c) operations providing specific pricing for shark-related activities; and (d)
verbal descriptions citing sharks as the main goal or objective of a given diving or
snorkeling activity. We excluded companies that presented the chance to encounter a
shark opportunistically. Such discrimination in our examination filtered out locations
where divers may casually observe sharks species on a particular dive. As such, we were
able to record the most established, shark-focused operations. To be included in our analysis
(Table 1), a recorded operation had to contain at least one currently functioning shark-
focused ecotourism activity.
Locations were classified into one of eight regional zones: 1, North America; 2, Central
and South America; 3, Greater Caribbean, including the Bahamas; 4, Europe; 5, North
Africa and the Middle East; 6, Southern and Eastern Africa, including Seychelles and
Madagascar; 7, Asia and Indonesia, excluding Papua New Guinea; and 8, Oceania,
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Table 1. Summary table of established global shark ecotourism sites from examination of Internet
Location Region
operators Main attraction Category
Rhode Island, USA
NA 2 Blue/mako P
Long Island, USA NA 1 Blue/mako P
Stellwagen Bank, MA, USA NA 2 Basking H
Nantucket, MA, USA NA 1 Blue/mako P
Outer Banks, NC, USA NA 8 Sand tiger CR
Venice, Louisiana
NA 1 Dusky, Silky CR
Palm Beach, FL, USA NA 2 Caribbean reef CR
Farallon Islands, CA, USA NA 5 White H
Catalina Island, CA, USA
NA 3 Blue/mako P
San Diego, CA, USA
NA 1 Blue/mako P
Hornby Island, BC, CA NA 1 Six-gill CR
Haleiwa, HI, USA NA 2 Galapagos CR
Honolulu, HI, USA NA 4 Galapagos, whitetip reef CR
Isla Guadalupe, Mexico
CSA 5 White H
Sea of Cortez, Mexico
CSA 4 Whale, S. Hammerhead H, CR
Socorro Island, Mexico
CSA 4 S. Hammerhead, whale H, CR
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico CSA 1 Bull CR
Isla Holbox, Mexico CSA .20 Whale H
Ambergris Caye, Belieze CSA 5 Nurse, Caribbean reef CR
Gladden Spit, Belieze CSA 4 Whale H
Bat Islands, Costa Rica CSA 5 Bull, whitetip reef CR
Cocos Island, Costa Rica
CSA 4 S. Hammerhead H, CR
Utila, Honduras CSA .20 Whale H
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
CSA 6 S. Hammerhead, whale H, CR
Malpelo Island, Ecuador
CSA 3 S. Hammerhead, whale H, CR
Canary Islands, Spain E 3 Angel CR
Cornwall, UK E 3 Basking H
Isle of Man, UK E .10 Basking H
The Azores, Portugal E 2 Blue/mako P
St. Maarten, Dutch Antilles GC 3 Caribbean reef CR
Tiger Beach, the Bahamas
GC 3 Tiger, hammerhead CR
Nassau, the Bahamas GC 3 Caribbean reef CR
Long Island, the Bahamas GC 1 Caribbean reef CR
Bimini, the Bahamas GC 1 Caribbean reef CR
Grand Bahama Island, the
GC 2 Caribbean reef CR
Exuma Cays, the Bahamas GC 3 Caribbean reef, whale CR
Eleuthera, the Bahamas GC 1 Caribbean reef, blacktip CR
San Salvador Island, the Bahamas GC 1 Caribbean reef,
S. Hammerhead
Walker’s Cay, the Bahamas GC 2 Caribbean reef CR
Turks and Caicos Islands, West
GC 3 Caribbean reef, nurse CR
Playa Santa Lucia, Cuba GC 1 Bull CR
Jardines de la Reina, Cuba GC 2 Bull, Silky CR
Fish Rock, NSW, Australia O 3 Sand tiger CR
Coffs Harbor, NSW, Australia O 2 Sand tiger CR
Forster, NSW, Australia O 3 Sand tiger CR
Ningaloo Reef, WA, Australia O .10 Whale H
Port Lincoln, SA, Australia O 4 White H
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including Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific Islands. These
data were then put into a Geographic Information System (ArcView 9.3) to examine for
patterns in the frequency and distribution of operations. For each operation within a
given region, we recorded the following parameters: total advertised species richness
and focal species (major attraction). Species diversity was derived by locating specific
Table 1. Continued.
Location Region
operators Main attraction Category
Wolf Rock, QLD, Australia O 4 Sand tiger CR
Great Barrier Reef, QLD, Australia O .20 Grey reef, silvertip CR
Coral Sea Islands, QLD, Australia
O 5 Grey reef, silvertip CR
Moorea, French Polynesia O 4 Blacktip reef, lemon CR
Fakarava, French Polynesia O 2 Grey reef, blacktip reef CR
Rangiroa, French Polynesia O 6 Blacktip reef, grey reef CR
Bora Bora, French Polynesia O 2 Blacktip reef, grey reef CR
New Georgia/Russell Islands,
O 3 Blacktip reef, whitetip reef CR
Vanua Levu, Fiji
O 5 Grey reef, blacktip reef CR
Mana Island, Fiji O 4 Grey reef, blacktip reef CR
Beqa Lagoon, Fiji O 1 Tiger, bull CR
Chatham Islands, New Zealand O 1 White H
North Island, New Zealand O 2 White, mako H, P
Beirut, Lebanon AME 2 Sand tiger CR
Hurghada, Egypt AME 4 Grey reef, whitetip reef CR
Elphinstone and Daedalus Reef,
AME 10 Oceanic whitetip P
Coastal Reefs, Sudan AME 3 Silvertip, S. Hammerhead H, CR
Tubbataha Reef Park, Philippines AI 3 Whitetip reef, blacktip reef CR
Donsol, Philippines AI .10 Whale H
Malapascua/Pescador Island,
AI 7 Pelagic thresher P
Phuket, Thailand AI 5 Whale H
Similan, Thailand
AI .5 Whale H
Palau Archipelago, Palau
AI .10 Grey reef, whitetip reef H, CR
The Maldives (grouped)
AI .20 Whale, grey reef H, CR
False Bay, South Africa SEA 2 White H
Mossel Bay, South Africa SEA 1 White H
Gansbaai, South Africa SEA 7 White H
Protea Banks, KZN, South Africa
SEA 7 Sand tiger, bronze whaler CR
Aliwal Shoal, KZN, South Africa SEA .10 Tiger, sand tiger CR
Sardine Run, KZN, South Africa SEA .10 Blacktip, bronze whaler CR
Sodwana Bay, KZN, South Africa SEA 3 Sand tiger, whale H
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania SEA 3 Whale H
Inhambane, Mozambique SEA 5 Whale, S. Hammerhead H
Bassas da India Atoll, French
SEA 2 White, S. Hammerhead H
Ponta D’Ouro, Mozambique SEA 4 S. Hammerhead, whale H
The Seychelles (various atolls)
SEA 4 Whale H
Notes: Location, region, number of operators, main species, and category (biological) of shark species are
presented. Region: NA, North America; CSA, Central and South America; E, Europe; GC, Greater Caribbean;
O, Oceania; AME, North Africa and Middle East; AI, Asia and Indonesia; SEA, Southern and Eastern Africa.
Category: H, highly migratory; CR, coastal and reef associated; P, pelagic.
Fishermen who operate ecotours.
Live aboard experience (partial or full).
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mention of species (common name was acceptable) associated with a diving activity on an
operator’s webpage. The total number and range of species that were promoted (as part of
an ecotourism activity) were tallied and recorded at each location. In our examination, we
did not discriminate between methods used by operations to foster or create shark
encounters (i.e. chumming, baiting, feeding, etc.).
We also conducted a socio-economic case study of a shark-ecotourism company based
in South Africa. The company, Apex Expeditions, is run by Chris and Monique Fallows,
who have been conducting shark ecotourism activities for 20 years (www.apexpredators.
com). Apex Expeditions focuses their activities on observing natural shark predation and
cage diving, particularly with white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias), and other pelagic
species. We quantified the scope of their operation by evaluating a set of demographic
and economic focal metrics which included: (a) year of company establishment; (b) total
number of trips since inception; (c) total number of trips per year between 1999 and
2010; (d) total number of customers since inception; (e) total number of customers per
year between 1999 and 2010; (f) maximum number of passengers per year from 1999 to
2010; (g) total number of staff employed per year between 1999 and 2010; and (h)
average cost per person, per trip, per year between 1999 and 2010. Additionally, we also
recorded the (i) number of shark species encountered on a daily shark trip, (j) average
number of days conducting ecotourism activities per year, (k) the top three countries
served by the operation, (l) percentage of repeat customers, (m) the estimated percentage
of people who take photo/video, and (n) the estimated percentage of people who publish
their photo/video in various media. We also examined the community services provided
and monetary contribution to local communities as a result of their operation. All
quantitative data were summarised and the means were calculated. Initial raw monetary
data (cost of trips, presented in South African Rand) were corrected for inflation based
on South African annual average inflation rates (source: International Monetary Fund)
and were subsequently converted to USD equivalents. Relationships between total
number of customers per year and total number of trips conducted per year were analysed
via regression analysis. All analyses were performed using SAS (1990) software and
significance was declared at p,0.05.
A global review
Our examination of ecotourism via the Internet websites revealed 376 established shark
ecotourism operations (over 500 found and screened), in 83 specific locations, spanning
29 different countries (Figure 2).
Locations and operators
All recorded sites were categorised by location into eight regions (Table 1). Regionally,
Oceania contained the highest proportion of different locations offering shark-based
ecotourism (18 locations, 22%; Figure 3). The Greater Caribbean and North America
regions each accounted for approximately 16% (n¼13, respectively) of all locations
offering shark ecotours (Figure 3). Both Europe and North Africa/Middle East had the
fewest number of different locations among all regions offering shark-based ecotourism
(4% each; Figure 3).
The specific locations supporting the highest number of established shark-based ecotour-
ism operations included: Holbox, Mexico (.20), Utila, Honduras (.20), Great Barrier Reef,
6A.J. Gallagher and N. Hammerschlag
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Figure 2. The global distribution and frequency of established shark ecotourism. Results on the distribution and frequency of shark ecotourism as tabulated from
extensive Internet searches according to our criteria (see Methods). Green locations, 1 5 operations; yellow locations, 6 10 operations; red locations, ,10
Current Issues in Tourism 7
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Australia (.20), Isle of Man, UK (.10), and Ningaloo Reef, Australia (.10) (Figure 2).
Additionally, both Palau and Maldives contained .10 operations each. North Africa and
the Middle East region contained the fewest number of operations (Table 1, Figure 2).
We quantified species-specific patterns in shark-based ecotourism activities in order to
compare their relative contribution to the global industry. The following species were
included in our analysis: whale (Rhincodon typus), white (Carcharodon carcharias),
basking (Cetorhinus maximus), shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus), blue (Prionace
glauca), great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran), scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna
lewini), Caribbean reef (Carcharhinus perezi), blacktip reef (Carcharhinus melanopterus),
lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris), sickle-fin lemon shark (Negaprion acutidens), tiger
(Galeocerdo cuvier), bull (Carcharhinus leucas), nurse (Ginglymostoma cirratum), and
blacktip (Carcharhinus limbatus). We also included four additional categories that
grouped species. Sharks not listed above, but from the family Carcharhinidae were cate-
gorised as ‘Carcharhinidae spp.’. The category ‘Reef shark species’ included the silvertip
reef (Carcharhinus albimarginatus), grey reef (Carcharhinus amblyrynchos), and whitetip
reef (Triaenodon obesus) shark. The category ‘carpet sharks’ was composed of angel sharks
(Order Squatiniformes) and wobbegongs (Orectolobus spp.). Any species which did not
fall into any of the former categories were listed as ‘other’. We also recorded the ‘main
attraction’ species, which was the focal species and most frequently advertised from each
location (Table 1).
Figure 3. Trends among species and regions. Observed frequency (reported as proportion of total) of
advertised species (histogram) and percentage of locations by region (pie chart); data gathered from
Internet searches.
8A.J. Gallagher and N. Hammerschlag
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In roughly 33% of all locations globally, ‘Reef shark spp.’ (excluding Caribbean and
Blacktip reef) were advertised among ecotourism operations (all regions, except Europe;
Figure 3). Whale shark (the largest fish in the ocean) encounters accounted for 30% of
all market locations, which generally supported the highest number of operations. These
locations include: the Yucatan Peninsula (Isla Holbox), Honduras, Western Australia
(Ningaloo Reef), and Asia and Indonesia (Philippines, Seychelles, and the Maldives).
Sharks from the species groupings ‘blacktip reef’ and ‘Caribbean reef’ were highly
advertised in shark encounters (18% and 15.6%, respectively; Figure 3). Additionally,
pelagic species such as the short-fin mako and the blue shark exhibited modest represen-
tation among global ecotourism operations (.10% each).
Economic case study
Over the 12-year sampling period of operations by Apex Expeditions, we found general
patterns of increase in all metrics examined (Table 2). Data for the number of trips per
year exhibited an exponential increase over time (r
¼0.74, p,0.003; Figure 4), with
an overall average of 101.75 +8.91 trips per year (mean +SE) over the 12-year
period, peaking in 2010 (175 trips). The number of customers per year also exhibited an
exponential increase over time (r
¼0.92, p,0.0001; Figure 4), averaging 624.54 custo-
mers per year +127.87 (mean +SE) over the period of 12 years. This pattern is further
demonstrated by the large spike in the number of customers from 2005 to 2010 (Table 2).
Other metrics, such as the number of staff employed (2 –6 staff from 1999 to 2010), number
Figure 4. Demographic case study. Regression of the total number of trips (open triangles) and total
customers (closed circles) over the 12-year sampling period, data derived from the case study of Apex
Table 2. Demographical and economical data from the case study of Apex Expeditions ecotourist
operation in South Africa.
1999 2002 2005 2008 2010
Total: 1999–
Mean +SE: 1999
Trips 83 76 102 121 175 1221 101.75 +8.91
Customers 250 500 650 1100 1700 8570 625.54 +127.87
Cost of trip/per
person (USD)
$164 $177 $208 $193 $201 n/a $189.17
Notes: Trips, customers and cost per trip/per person are presented across 3-year periods, as well as the total across
the 12-year sampling period.
Monetary amounts were adjusted for inflation using the South African CPI and converted to USD equivalents.
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of passengers per vessel (6 12 people from 1999 to 2010), and average cost per trip/per
person (23% increase from 1999 to 2010) displayed increasing trends over the 12-year
sampling period (Table 2). Since its inception in 1996, Apex Expeditions spends an
average of 200 days a year on the water, bringing customers close to five species of
shark (white sharks and four pelagic species). Apex has run 1221 trips since 1996 and
catered to approximately 8570 customers from around the world. The top three countries
served during the sampling period were: USA, UK, and Canada (in no particular order).
An estimated 85% of customers recorded video or took photographs during their trips,
with an additional 20% of this group choosing to publish their content in some form of
online or print media.
Oceania’s prevalence of pristine reef habitats and associated shark fauna likely explains its
high proportion of shark ecotourism locations (Last & Stevens, 2009). As a corollary, the
Greater Caribbean’s high number of locations may be explained by feeding and nursery
grounds utilised by sharks in this region (e.g. Carrier & Pratt, 1998; Feldheim, Gruber,
& Ashley, 2002; Figure 2). The Bahamas alone provides almost 70% of this region’s
total shark ecotourism, which is not surprising due to its biological richness of shark
species (Holland, 2007). Asia and Indonesia contained dense patches of locations advertis-
ing shark encounters; however, we noted that operations are still relatively young among
this region (Authors, direct observation). Moreover, the burgeoning of ecotourism sites
in places such as Palau is tied to recent large-scale developments of shark sanctuaries,
which simultaneously seek to protect resources while driving a tourism industry. North
Africa and the Middle East region contained the fewest number of operations (Table 1,
Figure 2), a finding which could be a consequence of depleted regional populations of
sharks (e.g. unregulated shark fishing). Interestingly, the Red Sea’s international reputation
for reef diving activities (yet lack of established, directed shark ecotourism) may indeed
suggest local depletions of shark diversity.
Our examination of species patterns across locations may provide insights into the
worth of a species to a location or region’s ecotourism. For example, reef sharks (including
Caribbean reef and Blacktip reef) were present in over 33% of all global ecotourism
locations. The reef shark’s widespread presence across ecotourism sites may be explained
by industry geography (i.e. a market’s proximity to reef habitats), and shark ecology (the
high site fidelity observed by reef sharks; Papastamatiou et al. 2011).
Whale shark encounters accounted for 30% of all market locations, where such
locations included the Yucatan Peninsula (Isla Holbox), Honduras, Western Australia
(Ningaloo Reef), and Asia and Indonesia (Philippines, Seychelles, and the Maldives).
While the whale shark-watching industry is still relatively young (began in 1980s;
Colman, 1997), these numbers indicate the regional capitalisation on whale sharks as a
recreational resource. Additionally, their large size, non-threatening character, coupled
with easily accessible snorkeling encounter opportunities, allow for a reliable and profitable
industry (Authors, direct experience). Moreover, ecotourism efforts have likely benefitted
from international restrictions on the consumptive use of this species. The whale shark is
currently listed as ‘vulnerable to extinction’ on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened
Species and international trade in whale shark parts are monitored under Appendix II of
the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species. The basking shark (the
second largest fish in the ocean) operations in the UK and white shark ecotours in South
Africa and Mexico also demonstrate a similar trend in regional abundance and tight
10 A.J. Gallagher and N. Hammerschlag
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global regulation (Table 1). It is worthy to note that these species represent the three largest
and arguably the most charismatic species of shark on the planet, inherently drawing public
interest, which no doubt adds to their popularity in terms of ecotourism.
Our case study of a white shark ecotourism operator in South Africa revealed significant
economical growth over time. This case study also highlighted an additional level of local
economic stimulation emanating from Apex Expeditions. For example, Apex Expeditions
hires its employees from surrounding poor local communities. Additionally, we discovered
that the average Apex Expedition customer spends an estimated US$350 per day. This
figure is based on both the cost of the trip as well as external costs benefiting the local
economy incurred from accommodation, food, car rental, and other recreational activities.
The company has also developed various professional enterprises with local businesses,
including establishing partnerships with other dive and travel companies. Apex Expeditions
provides first-aid training for all of its employees as well as setting up their employees with
alternative sources of income during each off-season. Our case study also revealed a high
degree of community involvement and educational outreach from Apex Expeditions,
ranging from an online monthly newsletter (5000 subscribers), to donations to local com-
munity enterprises (US$2000.00 per year). Apex frequently provides presentations to local
schools. Apex Expeditions also facilitates scientific research, resulting in publications of
both popular and peer-reviewed scientific publications (e.g. Hammerschlag, Martin, &
Fallows, 2006; Martin, Hammerschlag, Collier, & Fallows, 2005; Martin, Rossmo, &
Hammerschlag, 2009). While just one example, we believe our case study highlights the
economic potential, community-involvement, and environmentally conscious development
of an operator in the shark ecotourism industry.
There is a call for studies taking an interdisciplinary approach to studying top marine
predators such as sharks (Jacques, 2010). Our study provides the first attempt to use the
Internet to gauge the distribution and frequency of shark ecotourism. A limitation of our
study is the validity and quality of data from Internet sources. We realise that these findings
cannot be treated as purely absolute, given the potential for overlap among highly clustered
markets and possibility for inaccuracies in the source data. Moreover, websites are easily
subject to change and may not remain online indefinitely. Despite these issues, our analysis
is a ‘snapshot’ of the industry at a moment in time which reflects the choices that rec-
reational users (i.e. tourists) are offered across the world at any given moment in time.
The monetary value of sharks
It has been previously reported that shark ecotourism can present large economic values
across coastal nations (Table 3). In the Maldives, for example, divers engaged in over
Table 3. Economic impact of discrete established ecotourism markets as they appear in previous
Location Value (per year) Species Source
Gansbaai, SA 4.4 million White Hara, Maharaj and Pithers (2003)
Maldive Islands 2.3 million (1993) Various reef spp. Anderson and Ahmed (1993)
Maldive Islands 6.6 million (1998) Various reef spp. Waheed (1998)
Ningaloo Reef, AUS 5.9 million (1997) Whale Davis et al. (1997)
Seychelles 4.88 million Whale Rowat and Engerlhardt (2007)
The Bahamas 78 million (2004) Various reef spp. Cline (2008)
Note: Location, annual value, species, and source are presented.
Current Issues in Tourism 11
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76,000 shark-observing dives in just one year, bringing in an estimated US$2.3 million to
the local economy in 1993 alone (Anderson & Ahmed, 1993; Anderson & Waheed, 2001).
This same study also estimated that a single grey reef shark was worth an average of $3,300
per year, and over $35,000 per year at the most popular dive sites. In 2010, shark fishing in
the Maldives was banned since shark-based ecotourism contributed an estimated .30%
towards the Maldives GDP (Ndurya & Kihara, 2009).
A similar pattern is apparent in North America, whereby the Bahamas have enjoyed
over 25 years of recreational shark usage. In 2007, divers experienced an estimated
73,000 shark interactions in the Bahamas, generating roughly US$78 million in annual
revenue (Cline, 2008; Table 3). In over 20 years, the Bahamas have offered over 1
million shark diver interactions, contributing an estimated gross of US$800 million to
the Bahamian economy (Cline, 2008). Our study corroborates this high economic value
of sharks in the Bahamas, where we found that the Bahamas alone represented over 70%
of all Greater Caribbean ecotourism operations. Accordingly, it may serve the Bahamas
well to consider protecting these natural resources for future non-consumptive usage
through tourism.
In addition to the profits generated by the tour operators, the economic benefits of shark-
based tourism extend throughout the community. Travel, accommodation, and meals are
just a few examples of other external costs incurred by shark ecotourists. For example,
in the small developing community of Donsol, Philippines, whale shark tourism is solely
responsible for bringing the local municipalities out of poverty by creating over 300 jobs
and offering over 200 fishermen seasonal employment (as reported in Norman & Catlin,
2007). Another example of community values emanating from shark ecotourism is the
Shark Reef Marine Reserve in Beqa Lagoon, Fiji. This project’s goal is to preserve the bio-
diversity of a small patch reef, while sustaining a local community through the economic
revenues generated from shark diving (for more information, see Brunnschweiler, 2010;
Brunnschweiler & Earle, 2006).
Shark-based ecotourism operations may benefit from the long-lived life-history
characteristics of many shark species (provided sharks remain in the system). For
example, Anderson and Ahmed (1993) concluded that a grey reef shark was 100 times
more valuable alive than dead. It has also been calculated that an individual reef shark
may be valued at over US$200,000 over the course of its life (Wells, 2010). Extrapolating
this value, a single reef shark would be worth roughly US$13,000 a year (using a conser-
vative life span of 15 years). Moreover, if an ecotourism operator visits this individual every
other day during the course of a year, the shark would be worth approximately US$73 a day.
In 2004, the average market price for a set of shark fins (from the family Carcharhinidae)
was valued at US$50 (Clarke, Milner-Gulland, Bjorndal, 2007). The one-time daily
usage comparison between $73 (alive, recreation) and $50 (dead, finned) creates a stark
Shark ecotourism, like other marine recreational activities, is driven by the economic
decisions of tourists. Studies and reports often attempt to highlight the socio-economic
importance of biodiversity and nature by conducting questionnaire surveys to gauge the
public’s monetary interest in experiencing a particular species. These questionnaires,
generally known as the ‘willingness to pay’ surveys (hereafter referred to as WTP), are
often employed in natural resource economics and decision-making (Simpson, 1998).
Here, we provide a few examples from the WTP surveys directed to the study of shark
In a study conducted at Duke University in 2004, 504 American scuba divers were
asked to assess their maximum WTP for seeing healthy corals, sea turtles, and sharks
12 A.J. Gallagher and N. Hammerschlag
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(White, 2008). Results from this study suggested that divers hold high non-consumptive
values for marine life, ranking sharks as the top attraction, with 71% of all divers willing
to pay more to observe sharks than any other species. Two other studies which conducted
WTP surveys on divers in the Seychelles and Australia found a WTP range of US$30 900
for observing whale sharks (Cesar, van Beukering, Payet, & Grandcourt, 2003; Davis,
Banks, Birtles, Valentine, & Cuthill, 1997). Finally, a recent WTP survey aimed at divers
with an average of 1000 logged dives revealed that over 75% of them were willing to
pay extra to see sharks on a given trip (Medd, unpublished data). These high WTP
values reflect strong socio-economic interests for tourists to experience sharks in the
wild, and may reflect the wide distribution and popularity of this industry.
Strong debate currently exists on whether shark ecotourism may alter shark behaviour
and/or incur ecosystem-level consequences. Accordingly, there is a blossoming and contro-
versial body of literature on this subject (e.g. Clua, Buray, Legendre, Mourier, & Planes,
2010; Laroche, Kock, Dill, & Oosthuizen, 2007; Malkjovic
´, 2011). Addressing
this topic is beyond the scope of our present study, and those interested are urged to
consult the growing stock of literature on this topic.
The issue of shark ecotourism lends itself to investigations from researchers spanning
multiple disciplines such as tourism research (Catlin & Jones, 2010; Catlin et al., 2010),
economics (Anderson & Ahmed, 1993), community-based resource management
(Brunnschweiler, 2010), and ecology (Hammerschlag et al., 2006; Malkjovic
2011). Additionally, it should be noted that ecotourism can facilitate scientific observations
and data collection, affording researchers opportunities to measure inter-annual population
changes and the behavioural ecology of various shark species (e.g. Domeier & Nasby-
Lucas, 2007; Graham & Roberts, 2007; Malkjovic
´, 2011; authors’ unpublished
data). Such a marriage of research and ecotourism could benefit the regional management
of shark populations (e.g. Bensley et al., 2009).
Due to the popularity and controversy surrounding shark ecotourism activities, future
shark ecotourism investigations will benefit from empirically derived consumer question-
naires, time-scale economic data on regional operations (i.e. case studies), as well as the
examination of potential correlations between ecotourism and marine protection area
status. While we did not include marine protected areas in our analysis, their coupling
with ecotourism will undoubtedly benefit regional shark aggregations and conservation
Shark-based tourism is a global phenomenon. Once feared and despised, sharks today
draw significant attention and allure from people worldwide. Their importance to the diving
and marine tourist industry is highlighted by the distribution, frequency, and value of shark
ecotourism. We urge managers and NGOs to strongly consider and utilise the economic
figures and values of live sharks presented here when shaping and constructing manage-
ment initiatives. Responsible shark ecotourism can also benefit research and conservation.
Moreover, since many shark species are long-lived, these natural resources may accrue
revenue over extended periods of time, thus offering potential benefits to local economies
that can last decades and beyond.
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to C. Fallows, M. Fallows, and the staff at Apex
Expeditions. Additionally, we would like to thank M. O’Malley, H. Medd, B. Davis, and
J. Abernethy for their assistance with reports, as well as A. Moore, C.P. Hammerschlag,
E. Staaterman, and D. Letson for their comments on our manuscript. We also thank K. Broad,
Current Issues in Tourism 13
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G. Maranto from the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, as well as J. Serafy,
S. Genovese, L. Rock, C. Shepherd, A. Murch, and J. Romeiro for prompting useful discussion
and verbal contributions. We thank the anonymous reviewers whose comments strengthened this
manuscript. We thank the Shark Foundation, Florida Sea Grant Program Development, Batchelor
Foundation, Wells Fargo, Citizen’s Board Foundation at the University of Miami and the RJ
Dunlap Marine Conservation Program for their support of this work.
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... Shark ecotourism, in which members of the public pay to experience interactions with wild sharks, is credited with portraying sharks in a more positive light amongst members of the public 12,13 . Shark ecotourism is of everincreasing economic importance in a number of countries, thought to be valued globally at over 300,000,000 USD per year and responsible for the creation of thousands of jobs 14,15 . Regardless of these clear socioeconomic benefits, ecotourism also has potential ecological impacts [16][17][18][19] , the true nature of which remain poorly understood. ...
Full-text available
Shark populations globally are facing catastrophic declines. Ecotourism has been posited as a potential solution to many of the issues facing shark conservation, yet increasingly studies suggest that such activity may negatively influence aspects of shark ecology and so further pressure declining populations. Here we combine UAV videography with deep learning algorithms, multivariate statistics and hidden Markov models (HMM) to quantitatively investigate the behavioural consequences of ecotourism in the whale shark (Rhincodon typus). We find that ecotourism increases the probability of sharks being in a disturbed behavioural state, likely increasing energetic expenditure and potentially leading to downstream ecological effects. These results are only recovered when fitting models that account for individual variation in behavioural responses and past behavioural history. Our results demonstrate that behavioural responses to ecotourism are context dependent, as the initial behavioural state is important in determining responses to human activity. We argue that models incorporating individuality and context-dependence should, wherever possible, be incorporated into future studies investigating the ecological impacts of shark ecotourism, which are only likely to increase in importance given the expansion of the industry and the dire conservation status of many shark species.
... shark hotspots, where coastal tourism has emerged concurrent with frequent shark encounters and been bolstered by ecotourism (Curtis et al., 2012;Gallagher and Hammerschlag, 2011;Garcia-Quijano, 2018;Neff, 2012), beach tourism developed on Cape Cod without the danger and draw of white sharks. Instead of viewing the return of seals and white sharks as a conservation success that creates new avenues for tourism, some individuals who fished, grew up, or spent time on Cape Cod in the absence of these species view them now as an unnatural threat to livelihood, as has been expressed recently in public forums (Fraser, 2019). ...
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Conflict between humans and marine predators is on the rise globally, particularly in developed nations where conservation and management programs have allowed populations to recover. Over the last 50 years, legal protections have resulted in increased seal and white shark presence in the nearshore waters of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, leading to recent increased conflict with commercial fisheries and beachgoers. Following a fatal shark bite on Cape Cod in 2018, pressure has mounted on managers to address growing numbers of seals and white sharks. To determine stakeholder management preferences, questionnaires were administered to Cape Cod residents, commercial fishers, and tourists in summer 2021. All groups lacked knowledge of management history, with fewer than 60% of respondents aware that bounty-hunting had caused seal population declines and less than half aware that fishing activity had impacted Western North Atlantic white shark populations. Respondents in all groups preferred non-lethal management over the use of lethal methods and supported conflict prevention strategies, with levels of support varying among stakeholder groups. Results reveal shared and distinct values held by stakeholders amid conflict with recovering populations of marine predators, highlighting a need for stakeholder-specific messaging in efforts to promote coexistence.
... Diving with sharks has become popular throughout the world in recent decades (Gallagher and Hammerschlag, 2011) and in Mexico has been suggested to contribute approximately 12.4 million in United States dollars (USD) per year to local economies (Cisneros-Montemayor et al., 2013). In addition to an economic importance, observational studies at such shark tourism sites can also provide fishery-independent scientific information to improve population level assessments for certain species (Clua et al., 2010), as not only do these sharks often form seasonal aggregations, they also can be individually identified (Photo-ID; Pierce et al., 2018) and potentially monitored over multiple years. ...
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A prototype, fully submersible, high definition ultrasound was used to determine the reproductive state of wild, free-swimming bull sharks, Carcharhinus leucas , at a provisioned shark diving site in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. During two opportunistic dives, the presence of embryos was confirmed in three female sharks (greater than 2.0 m total length) and emphasizes the importance of developing and linking emerging technologies with shark diving sites for the conservation of elasmobranch species.
... South Africa has exceptionally high shark biodiversity [10] and is a hotspot for human-shark interactions, both positive and negative-it has many non-consumptive shark ecotourism operations [18] and has one of the highest incidences of shark bites [37]. Human-shark conflict has been particularly high in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, where a spate of shark bites in the 1940-1950 s resulted in a fishing programme in which gillnets, and more recently baited hooks, are set at popular beaches to reduce the number of sharks [5,6]. ...
... In recent years, citizen science, as well as the use of tourist platforms, has proven to be a viable alternative for the study of abundance, movements, behavior, and habitat use of pelagic sharks (Meyer et al. 2009). Tourism has become the main activity for the sustainable use of several species of elasmobranchs around the world (Gallagher and Hammerschlag 2011) and offers a way of generating revenue from live sharks (Topelko and Dearden 2005;Johnson and Kock 2006;Laroche et al. 2007). ...
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The Mexican Pacific is an area of high biodiversity due to its transitional location of both tropical and sub-tropical waters and many shark species inhabit the coastal areas of Los Cabos off the Baja California Peninsula, Mexico. Here, we used citizen science onboard a local shark tourism operator to determine the probability of pelagic shark presence relative to environmental factors using generalized additive models (GAMs) over a 3-year sampling period. Short-fin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) presence had significant relationships with sea surface temperature (SST), wind speed, sampling site, and year. Smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena) presence was significantly influenced by wind speed, year, photoperiod, moon illumination, and SST. Silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) presence had significant relationships with SST, wind speed, site, and year. The use of a tourism operator allowed citizens to be involved in science and provided a platform to collect data. This monitoring program will be continued and provides a baseline dataset of pelagic shark species which can often be lacking from the local artisanal fisheries that target sharks in the area.
... Interacting with sharks and rays is a rapidly growing section of marine tourism, with commercial opportunities to interact with these species now available in 42 countries (Healy et al., 2020). Shark and ray tourism is primarily distributed in low-and middle-income nations (Gallagher and Hammerschlag, 2011) where it can provide a substantial source of income, and in a few instances could offer a viable alternative to extractive fishing (Huveneers and Robbins, 2014;Zimmerhackel et al., 2019). Close interactions with these species in the proper setting can provide educational opportunities (Apps et al., 2017;Panoch and Pearson, 2017) and prompt a conservation ethic in tourists and operators (Apps et al., 2018;Apps et al., 2017;Panoch and Pearson, 2017). ...
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Wildlife tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry, where feeding animals is often applied to increase the probability of up-close encounters. However, directly feeding wildlife can cause behavioural, ecological, and physiological changes in the target species. In Oslob, Philippines, whale shark (Rhincodon typus) tourism involves feeding sharks a total of 150–400 kg sergestid shrimp daily throughout the interaction period from 06:00 to 10:00 from small outrigger boats while tourists observe whale sharks. We deployed tri-axial acceleration loggers on 16 whale sharks and recorded 270 h of acceleration, depth, and water temperature data (0.2 69.7 h). Comparing activity across tourism and non-tourism periods, whale sharks had a two-fold increase in vectorial dynamic-body acceleration, and altered tailbeat frequency and amplitude, during tourism operations. Using a bioenergetics model, we show that whale shark metabolic rates increased by 56.7–71.6 % while in the tourism area. A resampling approach found providing ~220 kg of sergestid shrimp daily would ensure ≥ 0.90 probability of meeting the increased energetic requirements. A global sensitivity analysis revealed that uncertainty in the assumed exponent of the standard metabolic rate was the only input that varied model predictions substantially. Due to unknown consequences of feeding whale sharks, we recommend managers aim to reduce the energy expenditure of whale sharks through operation changes instead of focussing on the quantity of food provided. Our research provides a novel method to contextualise the impacts of tourism beyond behavioural changes.
In the marine environment, natural reef habitats are amongst the most threatened by human activities. Although reef-based ecotourism can benefit local economies, dive tourism can damage sensitive habitats. One solution to managing conflicts between the economic value of diving and its ecological threats is the deployment of artificial reefs near popular dive sites. We surveyed recreational divers to assess divers' use, preference, and perceptions of diving artificial versus natural sites. We found that more divers prefer to dive in natural than artificial habitats, with associated biodiversity the most popular reason for preferring natural habitats, and appreciating shipwrecks the most popular reason for preferring artificial ones. Despite our sample population being highly educated and experienced, predominantly European divers, only 49 % of them perceived artificial reefs as important or somewhat important for diverting pressure from sensitive natural habitats. Similarly, only 13 % of respondents exhibited preference to avoid coral reefs to protect them. These results highlight the fact that more needs to be done to educate divers about the potential importance of artificial habitats in diverting divers from natural reefs. We suggest encouraging divers to switch out a proportion of their dives in vulnerable natural sites for artificial reefs. This is not only true for coral reefs, but should be applied to other natural reef habitats that are popular with divers such as kelp forests, sponge gardens and serpulid and coralligenous reefs. We hope that this study will provide a platform to stimulate a diver-led discussion and campaign for increased uptake of artificial reef use, resulting in reduced impacts on natural reefs.
Sharks, rays and their cartilaginous relatives (Class Chondricthyes, herein ‘sharks’) are amongst the world’s most threatened species groups, primarily due to overfishing, which in turn is driven by complex market forces including demand for fins. Understanding the high-value shark fin market is a global priority for conserving shark and rays, yet the preferences of shark fin consumers are not well understood. This gap hinders the design of evidence-based consumer-focused conservation interventions. Using an online discrete choice experiment, we explored preferences for price, quality, size, menu types (as a proxy for exclusivity) and source of fins (with varying degrees of sustainability) among 300 shark fin consumers in Singapore: a global entrepot for shark fin trade. Overall, consumers preferred lower-priced fins sourced from responsible fisheries or produced using novel lab-cultured techniques. We also identified four consumer segments, each with distinct psychographic characteristics and consumption behaviors. These preferences and profiles could be leveraged to inform new regulatory and market-based interventions regarding the sale and consumption of shark fins, and incentivize responsible fisheries and lab-cultured innovation for delivering conservation and sustainability goals. In addition, message framing around health benefits, shark endangerment and counterfeiting could reinforce existing beliefs amongst consumers in Singapore and drive behavioral shifts to ensure that market demand remains within the limits of sustainable supply.
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This study aims to analyze the economic impact on the welfare of the community around the Whale Shark area in the village of Labuhan Jambu. The current condition of the movement of the tourism industry in Labuhan Jambu Village is still not optimal. In addition to weak promotion, there are limited tourism support facilities and limited quality of human resources in managing tourism. The research method uses a quantitative descriptive approach. Source of data consists of secondary data and primary data. Data collection techniques are questionnaires, observation and documentation. The data analysis technique in this study uses structural equation modeling analysis. The results of the study indicate that there is no direct influence felt by the community as a whole from the existence of Whale Shark ecotourism on the community's economy and the welfare of the surrounding community. The direct influence is only felt by chart owners and operators of Whale Shark ecotourism, that chart owners and operators who deal directly with tourists who visit Whale Shark tours in the village of Labuhan Jambu. For tourists who rarely go ashore, the route used is the sea route. The tourists only stop for 1 to 2 hours to see the Whale Shark ecotourism, after which the tourists go straight to the next tourist spot, namely Komodo Island. This makes the community, especially business actors, not get a significant impact from Whale Shark ecotourism.
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1. Fishing spans all oceans and the impact on ocean predators such as sharks and rays is largely unknown. A lack of data and complicated jurisdictional issues present particular challenges for assessing and conserving high seas biodiversity. It is clear, however, that pelagic sharks and rays of the open ocean are subject to high and often unrestricted levels of mortality from bycatch and targeted fisheries for their meat and valuable fins. 2. These species exhibit a wide range of life-history characteristics, but many have relatively low productivity and consequently relatively high intrinsic vulnerability to over-exploitation. The IUCN}World Conservation Union Red List criteria were used to assess the global status of 21 oceanic pelagic shark and ray species. 3. Three-quarters (16) of these species are classified as Threatened or Near Threatened. Eleven species are globally threatened with higher risk of extinction: the giant devilray is Endangered, ten sharks are Vulnerable and a further five species are Near Threatened. Threat status depends on the interaction between the demographic resilience of the species and intensity of fisheries exploitation. 4. Most threatened species, like the shortfin mako shark, have low population increase rates and suffer high fishing mortality throughout their range. Species with a lower risk of extinction have either fast, resilient life histories (e.g. pelagic stingray) or are species with slow, less resilient life histories but subject to fisheries management (e.g. salmon shark). 5. Recommendations, including implementing and enforcing finning bans and catch limits, are made to guide effective conservation and management of these sharks and rays.
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Ecotourism operations which provide food to large predators have the potential to negatively affect their target species, by conditioning them to associate humans with food, or by generally altering their behavioural patterns, This latter effect could have potentially detrimental consequences for the ecosystem inhabited by the predator, because any behavioural changes could affect the species with which they interact. We present the results of an experimental study conducted from June to October 2004, which examined the effects of provisioning ecotourism on the behaviour of white sharks around a seal colony on a small island in South Africa. Although ecotourism activity had an effect on the behaviour of some sharks, this was relatively minor, and the majority of sharks showed little interest in the food rewards on offer. It is unlikely that conditioning would occur from the amount of ecotourism activity tested, because even those sharks identified supplying most of the data presented here (which may be more strongly predisposed towards conditioning, as their persistence around the boat is what allowed them to be identified) showed. a nearly ubiquitous trend of decreasing response with time. Furthermore, even the sharks frequently acquiring food rewards typically stopped responding after several interactions. Consequently, moderate levels of ecotourism probably have only a minor impact on the behaviour of white sharks, and are therefore unlikely to create behavioural effects at the ecosystem level.
Regarding humans as co-actors with other species in complex self-organizing systems, the authors focus on the sustainability of resource use. In the context of biological conservation, this implies maintenance of sufficient biodiversity to assure the resilience of ecosystems delivering ecological services of fundamental value to human societies. The paper identifies four sets of research issues: the first comprises a set of ecological questions about the nature, measurement and consequences of change in biological diversity, both globally and at the level of particular ecosystems. The second concerns the economic valuation of ecological services as a means of judging the economic significance of biodiversity loss. The third concerns the driving forces behind biodiversity loss. It deals with both the proximate and underlying causes of change in the level of biodiversity. The fourth concerns the scope for changing the human behaviour which threatens biodiversity, whether through the destruction of habitat, through specialization in production, or through harvesting strategies. The nature of the linkage between ecological and economic systems is discussed in the context of informational, institutional, ethical and cultural conditions. The paper takes a systems perspective emphasizing the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to biodiversity, and the gains from collaborative research. -from Authors
Economists and ecologists often disagree. While some of these disagreements arise from differences in individual perspectives, and some others may arise from a fundamental difference in paradigms, others may arise from simple misunderstandings. Economists are often remiss in not fully explaining the assumptions on which they base their analyses. In this paper I review the assumptions underlying the crucial economic concept of 'marginal analysis.' Ecologists concerned with the translation of scientific knowledge into social decision making should understand both the concept of marginal analysis and the circumstances under which it is or is not appropriate.
Biodiversity is commonly defined as the variability among living organisms from all sources. Over evolutionary time scales, there have been massive changes to the ocean's biodiversity, including several mass extinctions that have shaped planetary diversity over millions of years. Some, if not most of these events are thought to correlate with large-scale climate change that perturbed ocean temperature, chemistry, currents, and productivity. Most studies on the ecological effects of climate change, whether on land or in the sea, have concentrated on individual species. Biodiversity has three main components: diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. The chapter discusses changes in all three components, but the studies to date have mostly focused on species composition and species richness, likely because these represent the most easily quantifiable aspects of biodiversity. Despite its taxonomic prominence, marine biodiversity is sometimes overlooked in the climate change discussion undoubtedly because much of it is little known and less understood than its terrestrial counterpart. It appears that indeed changes in diversity often indicate changes in climate, especially warming and increased climate variability. On a global ocean scale, it appears that, as on land, the tropics loose diversity, temperate regions show increased diversity, whereas polar environments so far mostly show declines in ice-dependent species as the climate warms.