Use volunteers to deter tourists from harassing marine and freshwater mammals at wildlife-viewing sites
Overall effectiveness category Likely to be beneficial
Number of studies: 1
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Background information and definitions
The presence of an authority figure at wildlife-viewing sites may deter tourists from harassing marine and freshwater mammals. The use of official-looking volunteers may be a cheaper alternative to using paid enforcement officials.
See also Inform the public of ways to reduce disturbance to marine and freshwater mammals (e.g. use educational signs).
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A randomized, controlled study in 2008–2009 at a waterfall of the Ohau Stream, New Zealand (Acevedo-Gutierrez et al. 2011) found that the presence of an official-looking volunteer resulted in fewer tourists harassing New Zealand fur seals Arctocephalus forsteri than when a volunteer was not present. The number of tourist groups in which at least one tourist harassed seals was lower when an official-looking volunteer was present (14 of 108 groups, 13%) than when a volunteer was not present (56 of 146 groups, 38%). A total of 19,102 tourists visited the waterfall in 254 groups (108 groups with volunteer present, 146 groups without). The official-looking volunteer wore a neon vest and sat on a rock on a viewing platform located 500–1,000 m from a waterfall visited by seal young from a nearby breeding colony. Tourists harassed seals by approaching, touching, or throwing objects at them. The behaviour of each of 254 tourist groups was recorded by a hidden observer on 68 random days at random times between October 2008 and June 2009.Study and other actions tested
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This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:Marine and Freshwater Mammal Conservation
Marine and Freshwater Mammal Conservation - Published 2021
Marine and Freshwater Mammal Synopsis