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Impacts of tourism on pinnipeds and implications for tourism management

Newsome, D. and Rodger, K. (2008) Impacts of tourism on pinnipeds and implications for tourism management. In: Higham, J. and Lück, M., (eds.) Marine wildlife and tourism management: insights from the natural and social sciences. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, pp. 182-205.

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Pinnipeds are fin-footed marine mammals with front and hind flippers, such as seals, sea lions and walruses. The behavioural traits of pinnipeds make them appealing for tourism with viewing opportunities ranging from boat cruises, to swim-with interactions to guided onshore tours (Kirkwood et at., 2003). Tourism interest in pinnipeds is increasing in importance and involves a wide range of species utilizing islands and coastlines at various locations around the world. For example, Young (1998) reported 117 boat-based sealwatching operations involving some 500,000 visitors participating in the UK and Ireland In 1997. Kirkwood et at. (2003) note that there are some 80 pinniped tourism sites in the southern hemisphere with a yearly economic value of around US$12 million, with the Australian component comprising some 53 operators visiting 23 sites and involving around 400,000 tourists. Other important southern hemisphere locations include the Kaikoura Peninsula, New Zealand (~250.000 tourists per annum); Dulker Island, South Africa (~200,000 tourists per annum); and the Peninsula Valdez, Argentina (~150,000 tourists per annum). Pinniped tourism is also an important activity at locations in North America, the Galapagos Islands and Europe (Table 10.1).

One of the most impressive pinniped breeding sites in the northern hemisphere occurs on San Miguel Island in the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary, California, USA. Here, there are approximately 70,000 Californian sea lions (Zalophus californicus), 50,000 northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris), 5000 northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus) and 1000 harbour seals (Phoca vitulina concolor) (US National Park Service, 2006). Annual tourist numbers run at 60,000 to the Marine Park waters with 30.000 tourist visits to the islands (Channel Islands National Park. 2006).

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: CABI Publishing
Copyright: (c) CABI
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