Tourists swimming with Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus Pusillus) in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia: Are tourists at risk?

Scarpaci, C, Nugegoda, D and Corkeron, P 2005, 'Tourists swimming with Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus Pusillus) in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia: Are tourists at risk?', Tourism in Marine Environments, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 89-95.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Tourists swimming with Australian fur seals (Arctocephalus Pusillus) in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia: Are tourists at risk?
Author(s) Scarpaci, C
Nugegoda, D
Corkeron, P
Year 2005
Journal name Tourism in Marine Environments
Volume number 1
Issue number 2
Start page 89
End page 95
Total pages 6
Publisher Cognizant Communication Corporation
Abstract The public desire to interact with marine mammals has resulted in the development of a billion dollar tourism industry that includes activities such as humans swimming with free-ranging dolphins and seals. This study monitors the behavior of the seal-swim industry in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, Australia and is believed to be the first descriptive account of tourists swimming with free-ranging seals. Data were collected on 51 groups of people swimming with seals. These observations were made onboard dolphin/swim vessels (N = 36) or a research vessel (N = 9) using 1-min scan samples and continuous observations. Results from this study indicated that tour vessels accounted for the majority of human interaction with seals. From a total of 51 swims, two seal-swim strategies were observed: the free swim (53%) and rope swim (47%). The median swim time with seals was found to be significantly longer than dolphin swims. The mean number of swimmers participating in a seal swim was 7.5 and the mean number of boats present during a seal swim was 1.1. The distance maintained by tour vessels from the seal structure significantly increased as boat traffic increased. The results also indicate that operator behavior was not significantly affected by the presence of a researcher onboard tour vessels. This study examines the behavior of these tour vessels and possible reasons why these strategies are employed. The study also identifies possible hazards associated with tourists swimming with seals and the need to develop management strategies to support and protect this industry.
Subject Invertebrate Biology
Copyright notice © 2005 Cognizant Communication Corporation
ISSN 1544-273x
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