Reducing risky interactions between tourists and free-ranging dolphins (Tursiops sp.) in an artificial feeding program at Monkey Mia, Western Australia
Smith, H., Samuels, A. and Bradley, S. (2008) Reducing risky interactions between tourists and free-ranging dolphins (Tursiops sp.) in an artificial feeding program at Monkey Mia, Western Australia. Tourism Management, 29 (5). pp. 994-1001.
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We studied interactions between tourists and free-ranging bottlenose dolphins in an artificial feeding program at Monkey Mia, Australia. We used logistic regression to identify factors that contributed to the incidence of “risky” (potentially injurious) interactions between tourists and dolphins. Rates of dolphin-to-tourist risky interactions were heightened with longer waiting times before dolphins were fed. We documented differences among provisioned dolphins in their proclivity to engage in risky interactions; however, it was more likely for risky interactions to be initiated by tourists. Our findings suggest several readily implemented management strategies to reduce incidence of risky interactions. Long-term monitoring of tourism based on artificial feeding is essential to identify and rectify detrimental effects of provisioning on dolphins, to ensure the safety and welfare of dolphins and tourists, and to promote sustainability of this potentially harmful tourist activity.
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