Biological effects, conservation potential, and research priorities of shark diving tourism

Austin J. Gallagher, Gabriel M S Vianna, Yannis P. Papastamatiou, Catherine Macdonald, Tristan L. Guttridge, Neil Hammerschlag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

Shark diving tourism is a burgeoning, global industry. The growing perception that sharks can be worth more alive for tourism than dead in a fish market has become one of the leading contemporary arguments for shark conservation. However, there still exists concern that many aspects of shark-related tourism (e.g., provisioning) may alter natural behaviors and foraging areas, as well as pose a threat to humans by associating people with food. These concerns are largely driven by the previously limited scientific knowledge regarding the effects of shark diving tourism on shark biology, the marine environment and human interactions. Here we review and summarize previous research in these areas and evaluate the potential effects of dive tourism on shark behavior, ecology and subsequent human dimensions. To assist the development of future research, we provide a set of research questions. Taken together, we conclude that under the right conditions and if done in a precautionary, responsible manner, shark diving can provide a net conservation benefit (i.e., garnering of protective measures, raising awareness, instilling a conservation ethic) for a handful of species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-379
Number of pages15
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume184
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

Keywords

  • Charismatic species
  • Human impacts
  • Predator
  • Provisioning
  • Tourism
  • Wildlife

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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