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Spatio-temporal distribution of human use at Ningaloo Reef, Australia

Beckley, L., Smallwood, C., Moore, S. and Kobryn, H.ORCID: 0000-0003-1004-7593 (2012) Spatio-temporal distribution of human use at Ningaloo Reef, Australia. In: 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, 9 - 13 July, Cairns, Australia.


Understanding where, when, and how many people use reefs is imperative for their conservation and management. A multidisciplinary study, using geo-referenced aerial and coastal surveys along the length of Ningaloo Reef combined with 1200 visitor interviews, enabled spatio-temporal patterns in boat-based and coastal recreational activities to be determined. The use of Ningaloo Reef is markedly seasonal with a clear increase in the number of people, and expansion of their spatial extent, during the austral winter. Many recreational activities, including fishing, snorkelling, surfing, wild-life interaction (whale sharks and manta rays), relaxing on the beach and camping along the coast, take place at Ningaloo Reef. The relationship between types of recreational activity and spatial zoning of Ningaloo Marine Park was significant, with strong association between snorkelling and sanctuary zones. Although fishing generally took place in recreation zones, the spatially explicit nature of the study also enabled estimates of compliance with sanctuary zones to be made. Travel network analysis on utilization of coastal roads, tracks and boat launching areas adjacent to the reef highlighted node-based patterns of use as well as rapid decay with distance from access points. The results of this multi-disciplinary study are appropriate and well-suited to coral reef conservation, in particular, for systematic conservation planning. They also provide a robust bench mark and readily measurable indicators for ongoing monitoring, management and management strategy evaluation at Ningaloo Reef. The protocols developed during this study are readily transferable to other coastal areas, particularly those with linear fringing reefs.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
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