Examining the Impacts of Antarctic Tourism on Whales

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Since the formation of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) in 1991, the number of tourists visiting Antarctica has increased from 6,400 to over 35,000 annually. If vessel-based Antarctic tourism (known as “expedition cruising”) continues to expand, the opportunities for interactions between tourism vessels and whales will likewise increase. Potential impacts to whales from tourism range from negative impacts, such as collisions, ship noise, and behavioral modification, to positive impacts, such as tourist participation in whale research projects. My review of the available literature found that the interactions between Antarctic tourism and whales have received limited attention from the scientific community. In order to gain insight into this situation, I designed and beta-tested online surveys for Antarctic scientists, tourists, and tour operators. These surveys examine the perspectives of these groups towards the interactions between whales and Antarctic tourism. Preliminary results indicate these groups believe that Antarctic tourism currently offers more benefits to whales than risks. In the future, the distribution of similar surveys to larger groups, particularly to IAATO members and tourists on IAATO vessels, would help confirm these findings. Understanding the perceptions of each group will be useful during the development of future Antarctic guidelines and policy, and can be used to guide future Antarctic research.




whales, Antarctica, tourism, IAATO, The Antarctic Treaty



Fox, Allison (2014). Examining the Impacts of Antarctic Tourism on Whales. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/8566.

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.