What it's all about
This website is for the marine wildlife enthusiast who likes to be informed about everything marine wildlife tourism-ish. It has been created by a professional for other professionals as well as people who want to learn more about human-wildlife interactions in general, good-practice operations, and the latest trends and exciting developments. It provides news fresh out of marine wildlife tourism research. The website is also for those who simply need input and advice for their next wildlife watching experience.
The information aims to promote encounters that are respectful and to educate about the ‘do’s & don’ts’, in order to enhance the overall safety of both people and wildlife when they are interacting in the animals’ natural environments.
New on The Conversation: Swimming with whales - you must know the risks and when it's best to keep your distance
For many people, encountering wild animals in their natural habitat is a moving experience. Recent increases in the popularity of this activity can be explained by increasing environmental awareness and, especially for urban-living people, a rediscovery of the beauty and value of biodiversity and its power to enable reconnections with their own inner wild nature. Wild animal encounters enhance psychological, educational and environmental outcomes.
Commercial wildlife watching is one of the fastest growing and most popular tourism segments worldwide with an annual growth rate of 10% and an estimated global market size of 12 million trips per year. The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (UNEP/CMS) expects 1.6 billion international tourists in 2020 with many of them seeking to encounter animal species in the wild.
Marine wildlife tourism is a popular subset of this tourism sector and includes a variety of activities in the marine environment, including watching and feeding fish, interactions with stingrays, birdwatching and visits to seabird breeding areas as well as the observation of and interaction with marine mammals. Marine mammal tourism embraces visits to seal colonies, swimming with sea lions and manatees, as well as the watching and swimming with whales and dolphins, and dolphin feeding programmes. From the Arctic to Antarctica, marine wildlife tourism is conducted in many coastal and marine environments within different climate zones.
Marine wildlife tourism targets many different species that inhabit the coastal and marine environment. From mega fauna like whale sharks (Rhincodon typus; e.g. in Honduras), leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea; e.g. in Trinidad) or beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas; e.g. in Canada) to rather small wildlife such as Atlantic puffins (Fratercula arctica; e.g. in Iceland) and golden jellyfish (Mastigias species; e.g. in Palau), our planet has a lot to offer. However, many species are at the brink of extinction, and in some cases, like the vaquita (Phocoena sinus, a rare species of porpoise), only a few individuals remain. Hence, best-practice wildlife tourism operations should always contribute to the conservation of the species observed.