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Public Knowledge, Attitudes, and Perceptions Towards Dolphins and Dolphin Conservation

By Whitney Denham

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Abstract

In 2015, an online survey was conducted to investigate public attitudes toward key  cetacean (whale, dolphin, and porpoise) conservation and 'hot topic' issues such as  legislative protection, whaling, and captivity (n=858). Importance of the use of social  media by scientists and conservationists and its accuracy was also addressed. When given  a list of whale and dolphin species, 24.01% participants thought the blue whale was the  most endangered, 22.14% thought it was the humpback whale, and 23.43% stated the  killer whale. Additionally, participants were also asked which species listed was the most  important to conserve: 39.74% indicating the bottlenose dolphin was the most important.  Only 6.29% highlighted the most endangered cetacean (the Vaquita or Gulf of California  harbor porpoise) and 5.01% noted the endangered North Atlantic right whale. More  members of the public highlighted non-existent (fake) species as being of conservation  concern than certain species of genuine concern (e.g. Pygmy short-fined whale, Lumpheaded  dolphin, and Majestic spotted dolphin). The majority of participants considered  dolphins and whales to be "under protected" or only "slightly protected" (29.95%;  41.96%, respectively) and expressed that marine mammal conservation laws and policies  were "very important" or "important" (47.43%; and 37.88%, respectively). In addition,  86.83% of participants expressed opposition to the hunting of dolphins and whales  (57.93% "strongly opposed" and 28.90% "opposed"); however, only 47.44% of  participants were aware that several countries are still involved in whaling. Participants  were divided on opposition or support of dolphins and whales in marine parks and  aquariums (54.43%; 45.57% respectively). But 86.01% or 6 times as many members of  the public preferred to view cetaceans in the wild via-whale watching than in captivity,  and a majority noted that cetaceans should only be kept in captivity when dolphins are  sick or injured, for conducting research relevant to dolphin conservation in the wild, and  for conducting research on captive dolphin rearing and breeding (husbandry). A lack of  awareness of the conservation status of whales and dolphins and continued whaling  activities suggests that greater outreach to the public about the conservation status of  whale and dolphin species is needed.

Submitter

Katie Carroll

Date 2015
Pages 115
Publisher George Mason University
Department Department of Environmental Science and Policy
Degree Master of Science
URL http://hdl.handle.net/1920/10249
Language English
University George Mason University
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Tags
  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Conservation
  4. Dolphins
  5. human-wildlife interactions
  6. Mammals
  7. Marine animals
  8. Marine mammals
  9. Nature
  10. perceptions
  11. Wild animals
  12. wildlife