Advertisement

Environmental Management

, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 699–710 | Cite as

Grey Nurse Shark (Carcharias taurus) Diving Tourism: Tourist Compliance and Shark Behaviour at Fish Rock, Australia

  • Kirby Smith
  • Mark Scarr
  • Carol Scarpaci
Article

Abstract

Humans can dive with critically endangered grey nurse sharks (Carcharias taurus) along the east coast of Australia. This study investigated both compliance of tourist divers to a code of conduct and legislation and the behaviour of grey nurse sharks in the presence of divers. A total of 25 data collection dives were conducted from December 2008 to January 2009. Grey nurse shark and diver behaviour were documented using 2-min scan samples and continuous observation. The proportion of time spent observing human–shark interactions was 9.4% of total field time and mean human–shark interaction time was 15.0 min. Results were used to gauge the effectiveness of current management practices for the grey nurse shark dive industry at Fish Rock in New South Wales, Australia. Grey nurse shark dive tourists were compliant to stipulations in the code of conduct and legislation (compliance ranged from 88 to 100%). The research detailed factors that may promote compliance in wildlife tourism operations such as the clarity of the stipulations, locality of the target species and diver perceptions of sharks. Results indicated that grey nurse sharks spent the majority of their time milling (85%) followed by active swimming (15%). Milling behaviour significantly decreased in the presence of more than six divers. Distance between sharks and divers, interaction time and number of sharks were not significantly correlated with grey nurse shark school behaviour. Jaw gaping, rapid withdrawal and stiff or jerky movement were the specific behaviours of grey nurse sharks that occurred most frequently and were associated with distance between divers and sharks and the presence of six or more divers. Revision of the number of divers allowed per interaction with a school of grey nurse sharks and further research on the potential impacts that shark-diving tourism may pose to grey nurse sharks is recommended.

Keywords

Sharks Grey nurse sharks Carcharias taurus Tourism Compliance Behaviour 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of Victoria University and of Earthwatch for partially funding this research. Dr. Rob Williams and two anonymous reviewers are thanked for their comments and constructive criticism regarding previous drafts of this manuscript. Special thanks are extended to Jon Cragg, Simon Latta and Larry Anderson of Fish Rock Dive Centre for their support in the field.

References

  1. Allen S, Smith H, Waples K, Harcourt R (2007) The voluntary code of conduct for dolphin watching in Port Stephens, Australia: is self-regulation an effective management tool? Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 9(2):159–166Google Scholar
  2. Altmann J (1974) Observational study of behaviour: sampling methods. Behaviour 49:227–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amo L, López P, Martin J (2006) Nature-based tourism as a form of predation risk affects body condition and health state of Podarcis muralis lizards. Biological Conservation 131(3):402–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Australasian Legal Information Institute (ALII) (2010) Fisheries Management (General) Regulation 2002-Reg 340C. http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_reg/fmr2002339/s340c.html. Accessed 31 Mar 2010
  5. Ballantyne R, Packer J, Hughes K (2009) Tourists’ support for conservation messages and sustainable management practices in wildlife tourism experiences. Tourism Management 30:658–664CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bansemer CS, Bennett MB (2008) Multi-year validation of photographic identification of grey nurse sharks, Carcharias taurus, and applications for non-invasive conservation research. Marine & Freshwater Research 59(4):322–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bargagli R (2008) Environmental contamination in Antarctic ecosystems. Science of the Total Environment 400(1–3):212–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bejder L, Dawson SM, Harraway JA (1999) Responses by Hector’s dolphins to boats and swimmers in Porpoise Bay, New Zealand. Marine Mammal Science 15(3):738–750CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bejder L, Samuels A, Whitehead H, Gales N (2006a) Interpreting short-term behavioural responses to disturbance within a longitudinal perspective. Animal Behaviour 72(5):1149–1158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bejder L, Samuels A, Whitehead H, Gales N, Mann J, Connor R, Heithaus M, Watson-Capps J, Flaherty C, Krützen M (2006b) Decline in relative abundance of bottlenose dolphins exposed to long-term disturbance. Conservation Biology 20(6):1791–1798CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boissonneault M, Gladstone W, Scott P, Cushing N (2005) Grey nurse shark human interactions and portrayals: a study of newspaper portrayals of the grey nurse shark from 1969–2003. Electronic Green Journal 22:3Google Scholar
  12. Christensen A, Rowe S, Needham MD (2007) Value orientations, awareness of consequences, and participation in a whale watching education program in Oregon. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 12(4):289–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Collins JH (2008) Marine tourism in the Kimberley region of western Australia. Geographical Research 46(1):111–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Constantine R (2001) Increased avoidance of swimmers by wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) due to long-term exposure to swim-with-dolphin tourism. Marine Mammal Science 17(4):689–702CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Constantine R, Brunton DH, Dennis T (2004) Dolphin-watching tour boats change bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) behaviour. Biological Conservation 117(3):299–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Curtin S, Wilkes K (2007) Swimming with captive dolphins: current debates and post-experience dissonance. International Journal of Tourism Research 9(2):131–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Davis D, Banks S, Birtles A, Valentine P, Cuthill M (1997) Whale sharks in Ningaloo Marine Park: managing tourism in an Australian marine protected area. Tourism Management 18(5):259–271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2010) Carcharias taurus (east coast population)–grey nurse shark (east coast population). http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=68751. Accessed 29 July 2010
  19. Duprey NMT, Weir JS, Würsig B (2008) Effectiveness of a voluntary code of conduct in reducing vessel traffic around dolphins. Ocean and Coastal Management 51(8–9):632–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Environment Australia (EA) (2002) Recovery plan for the grey nurse shark (Carcharias taurus) in Australia. Commonwealth of AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  21. Finkler W, Higham J (2004) The human dimensions of whale watching: an analysis based on viewing platforms. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 9(2):103–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Goldman KJ, Branstetter S, Musick JA (2006) A re-examination of the age and growth of sand tiger sharks, Carcharias taurus, in the western North Atlantic: the importance of ageing protocols and use of multiple back-calculation techniques. Environmental Biology of Fishes 77(3–4):241–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gruber SH, Myrberg AA Jr (1977) Approaches to the study of the behavior of sharks. American Zoologist 17(2):471–486Google Scholar
  24. Higham JES, Bejder L, Lusseau D (2009) An integrated and adaptive management model to address the long-term sustainability of tourist interactions with cetaceans. Environmental Conservation 4(35):294–302Google Scholar
  25. Johnson A, Acevedo-Gutierrez A (2007) Regulation compliance by vessels and disturbance of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina). Canadian Journal of Zoology (Revue Canadienne De Zoologie) 85(2):290–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Johnson RH, Nelson DR (1973) Agonistic display in the gray reef shark, Carcharhinus menisorrah, and its relationship to attacks on man. Copeia 1973(1):76–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kessler M (2005) Rear-guard action for the innocent grey nurse. Ecos 128:35Google Scholar
  28. King JM, Heinen JT (2004) An assessment of the behaviors of overwintering manatees as influenced by interactions with tourists at two sites in central Florida. Biological Conservation 117:227–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Laroche RK, Alison AK, Lawrence MD, Oosthuizen WH (2007) Effects of provisioning ecotourism activity on the behaviour of white sharks Carcharodon carcharias. Marine Ecology Progress Series 338:199–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lusseau D (2004) The hidden cost of tourism: detecting long-term effects of tourism using behavioral information. Ecology and Society 9(1):2Google Scholar
  31. Lusseau D (2006) The short-term behavioral reactions of bottlenose dolphins to interactions with boats in Doubtful Sound, New Zealand. Marine Mammal Science 22(4):802–818CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lusseau D, Higham JES (2004) Managing the impacts of dolphin-based tourism through the definition of critical habitats: the case of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops spp.) in Doubtful Sound, New Zealand. Tourism Management 25(6):657–667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mann J, Smuts B (1999) Behavioral development in wild bottlenose dolphin newborns (Tursiops sp.). Behaviour 136(5):529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Martin RA (2007) A review of shark agonistic displays: comparison of display features and implications for shark-human interactions. Marine and Freshwater Behaviour and Physiology 40(1):3–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Matysek KA, Kriwoken LK (2003) The natural state: nature-based tourism and ecotourism accreditation in Tasmania, Australia. Journal of Quality Assurance in Hospitality & Tourism 4(1/2):129–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Myrberg AA Jr, Gruber SH (1974) The behavior of the bonnethead shark, Sphyrna tiburo. Copeia 1974(2):358–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSWDPI) (2005) Grey nurse shark critical habitat. http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/species-protection/conservation/what/register/grey-nurse-shark#Critical-Habitat-Diving-Regulations. Accessed 14 Feb 2010
  38. Newsome D, Lewis A, Moncrieff D (2004) Impacts and risks associated with developing, but unsupervised, stingray tourism at Hamelin Bay, Western Australia. International Journal of Tourism Research 6(5):305–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Orams MB (1996) A conceptual model of tourist/wildlife interaction: the case for education as a management strategy. Australian Geographer 27(1):39–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Otway NM, Burke AL, Morrison NS, Parker PC (2003) Monitoring and identification of NSW critical habitat sites for conservation of grey nurse sharks. NSW Fisheries Final Report Series No. 47Google Scholar
  41. Otway NM, Bradshaw CJA, Harcourt RG (2004) Estimating the rate of quasi-extinction of the Australian grey nurse shark (Carcharias taurus) population using deterministic age- and stage-classified models. Biological Conservation 119(3):341–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Otway NM, Storrie MT, Louden BM, Gilligan JJ (2009) Documentation of depth-related migratory movements, localised movements at critical habitat sites and the effects of scuba diving for the east coast grey nurse shark population. Industry & Investment NSW-Fisheries Final Report Series No. 112Google Scholar
  43. Pollard DA, Lincoln Smith MP, Smith AK (1996) The biology and conservation status of the grey nurse shark (Carcharias taurus Rafinesque 1810) in New South Wales, Australia. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 6(1):1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Powell RB, Ham SH (2008) Can ecotourism interpretation really lead to pro-conservation knowledge, attitudes and behaviour? Evidence from the Galapagos Islands. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 16(4):467–489Google Scholar
  45. Queensland Government (QG) (2010a) Marine Parks (Great Sandy) Zoning Plan 2006. http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/M/MarinePGSZnP06.pdf. Accessed 11 April 2010
  46. Queensland Government (QG) (2010b) Marine Parks (Moreton Bay) Zoning Plan 2008. http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/M/MarinePMBZnP08.pdf. Accessed 11 April 2010
  47. Queensland Government Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (QGDEEDI) (2010) Protecting the grey nurse shark (Primary Industries and Fisheries). http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/28_16524.htm. Accessed 31 Mar 2010
  48. Queensland Government Department of Environment and Resource Management (QGDERM) (2010) Grey nurse shark (Department of Environment and Resource Management). http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/wildlife-ecosystems/wildlife/threatened_plants_and_animals/endangered/grey_nurse_shark.html. Accessed 30 Mar 2010
  49. Quiros AL (2005) Whale shark eco-tourism in the Philippines and Belize: evaluating conservation and community benefits. Tropical Resources Bulletin 24:42–48Google Scholar
  50. Quiros AL (2007) Tourist compliance to a Code of Conduct and the resulting effects on whale shark (Rhincodon typus) behavior in Donsol, Philippines. Fisheries Research 84(1):102–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Reynolds PC, Braithwaite D (2001) Towards a conceptual framework for wildlife tourism. Tourism Management 22(1):31–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Scarpaci C, Bigger SW, Corkeron PJ, Nugegoda D (2000) Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) increase whistling in the presence of ‘swim-with-dolphin’ tour operations. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 2(3):183–185Google Scholar
  53. Scarpaci C, Nugegoda D, Corkeron PJ (2003) Compliance with regulations by “swim-with-dolphins” operations in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia. Environmental Management 31(3):342–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Scarpaci C, Nugegoda D, Corkeron PJ (2004) No detectable improvement in compliance to regulations by “swim-with-dolphin” operators in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia. Tourism in Marine Environments 1(1):41–48Google Scholar
  55. Semeniuk C, Speers-Roesch B, Rothley K (2007) Using fatty-acid profile analysis as an ecologic indicator in the management of tourist impacts on marine wildlife: a case of stingray-feeding in the Caribbean. Environmental Management 40(4):665–677CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Semeniuk CAD, Haider W, Beardmore B, Rothley KD (2009) A multi-attribute trade-off approach for advancing the management of marine wildlife tourism: a quantitative assessment of heterogeneous visitor preferences. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 19(2):194–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sensis (2008) Whereis. http://www.whereis.com/#session=Mzc=. Accessed 10 May 2009
  58. Shafer CS, Inglis GJ (2000) Influence of social, biophysical, and managerial conditions on tourism experiences within the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area. Environmental Management 26(1):73–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Smith K, Scarr M, Scarpaci C (2009) Does grey nurse shark (Carcharias taurus) diving tourism promote biocentric values within participants? Journal & Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales 142(3–4):31–44Google Scholar
  60. Sorice MG, Shafer CS, Ditton RB (2006) Managing endangered species within the use preservation paradox: the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) as a tourism attraction. Environmental Management 37(1):69–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sorice MG, Flamm RO, McDonald S (2007) Factors influencing behavior in a boating speed zone. Coastal Management 35(2):357–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Stafford-Bell R (2008) Swimming with Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus doriferus) in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia—evaluating tour operator compliance. Unpublished thesis, Victoria UniversityGoogle Scholar
  63. Stensland E, Berggren P (2007) Behavioural changes in female Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in response to boat-based tourism. Marine Ecology Progress Series 332:225–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Stockin KA, Lusseau D, Binedell V, Wiseman N, Orams MB (2008) Tourism affects the behavioural budget of the common dolphin Delphinus sp. in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand. Marine Ecology Progress Series 355:287–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Stow A, Zenger K, Briscoe D, Gillings M, Peddemors V, Otway N, Harcourt R (2006) Isolation and genetic diversity of endangered grey nurse shark (Carcharias taurus) populations. Biology Letters 2(2):308–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tremblay P (2001) Wildlife tourism consumption: consumptive or non-consumptive? International Journal of Tourism Research 3(1):81–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Valentine PS, Birtles A, Curnock M, Arnold P, Dunstan A (2004) Getting closer to whales- passenger expectations and experiences, and the management of swim with dwarf minke whale interactions in the Great Barrier Reef. Tourism Management 25(6):647–655CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wiley DN, Moller JC, Pace RM III, Carlson C (2008) Effectiveness of voluntary conservation agreements: case study of endangered whales and commercial whale watching. Conservation Biology 22(2):450–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Williams R, Ashe E (2007) Killer whale evasive tactics vary with boat number. Journal of Zoology 272(4):390–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Williams R, Lusseau D, Hammond PS (2006) Estimating relative energetic costs of human disturbance to killer whales (Orcinus orca). Biological Conservation 133(3):301–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Wilson C, Tisdell C (2003) Conservation and economic benefits of wildlife-based marine tourism: sea turtles and whales as case studies. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 8(1):49–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Zar JH (1974) Biostatistical analysis. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood CliffsGoogle Scholar
  73. Zeppel H, Muloin S (2008) Conservation benefits of interpretation on marine wildlife tours. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 13(4):280–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Engineering and ScienceVictoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations