[Eoas-seminar] Oceanography MS Defense for Lindsay Hooper, Thursday, March 26, 12:00 PM via Zoom

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Tue Mar 17 10:55:00 EDT 2020

Join Zoom meeting: https://fsu.zoom.us/j/799226959                                                   Meeting ID: 799-226-959

Oceanography Defense

Lindsay Hooper

M.S. Oceanography Candidate

TITLE: Compliance of Dolphin Ecotours in Southwest Florida to the NOAA Marine Mammal Viewing Guidelines

Major Professor:  Dr. Mariana Fuentes

Date: March 26, 2020                           Time: 12:00 PM

Join Zoom meeting: https://fsu.zoom.us/j/799226959                                                   Meeting ID: 799-226-959


To understand ecotour compliance to marine mammal viewing guidelines it is essential to evaluate compliance as a holistic system. This requires not only assessing compliance levels to guidelines, but also assessing captain and passenger knowledge and perceptions of guidelines, as well as how passenger experience is affected by compliance. This is particularly important in areas of thriving ecotourism that have a focus on marine mammals. To address the need for this multi-facet approach to assess compliance, this study 1) assessed ecotour compliance levels to the NOAA Southeast U.S. marine mammal viewing guidelines while interacting with bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Southwest Florida, 2) evaluated  captain and passenger knowledge and perceptions of the guidelines, 3) explored how passenger experience was affected by compliance. Ecotour compliance was assessed via 16 observations of eight boat-based dolphin ecotours during March - April 2019. Captains' knowledge and opinions of the guidelines, as well as their perceived compliance to the guidelines, were obtained through an online questionnaire distributed after the field observations were completed. Passenger knowledge and perceptions of the guidelines, as well as how compliance affects their experience, were recorded through paper surveys given in person after the ecotour trip in which they took part was over. Of the 12 NOAA viewing guidelines, ecotour captains violated 44% of guidelines on average. Captains generally knew and supported the guidelines, and were aware of their own violations, yet still demonstrated low compliance levels. Passengers also supported the guidelines and valued compliance but did not have enough knowledge about the guidelines to recognize captain violations. Most passengers were willing to pay more for compliant tours, and reported that captains violating the guidelines would negatively affect their trip. Suggestions on possible ways to increase compliance and decrease the potential for negative impacts to the dolphins are made based on our results.

Shel McGuire
Florida State University
Academic Program Specialist
Department of Earth, Ocean, & Atmospheric Science
1011 Academic Way, 2019 EOA Building
Tallahassee, FL 32306

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