Insight into the global practices of tourism operators and their attitudes to Shark behaviour
Published online on 07. January 2015
Sharks and people: Insight into the global practices of tourism operators and their attitudes to Shark behaviour
Kirsty Richards, Bethan C. O’Leary, Callum M. Roberts, Rupert Ormond, Mauvis Gore, Julie P. Hawkins
Shark tourism is a popular but controversial activity. We obtained insights into this industry via a global e-mailed questionnaire completed by 45 diving/snorkelling operators who advertised shark experiences (shark operators) and 49 who did not (non-shark operators). 42% of shark operators used an attractant to lure sharks and 93% stated they had a formal code of conduct which 86% enforced “very strictly”. While sharks were reported to normally ignore people, 9 operators had experienced troublesome behaviour from them. Whilst our research corroborates previous studies indicating minimal risk to humans from most shark encounters, a precautionary approach to provisioning is required to avoid potential ecological and societal effects of shark tourism. Codes of conduct should always stipulate acceptable diver behaviour and appropriate diver numbers and shark operators should have a moral responsibility to educate their customers about the need for shark conservation.
Marine Pollution Bulletin, In Press, doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.12.004