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Conservation, Captivity, and Whaling: A Survey of Belize Whalewatching Tourists' Attitudes to Cetacean Conservation Issues

By Katheryn W. Patterson

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With whalewatching activities and associated expenditures increasing annually,  governments in coastal countries possess a large vested interest in the continued growth  and protection of whale populations and the associated tourism. In 2007 and 2008, a  survey investigating whalewatching tourists' attitudes toward key cetacean conservation  issues, such as legislative protection, whaling, and captivity, was administered to  volunteer participants at Blackbird Caye, Turneffe Atoll, Belize (n=166). With regards to  attitudes towards cetacean conservation issues, the majority of participants considered  dolphins and whales to be under protected or only slightly protected (36.4%; 45.1%,  respectively) and expressed that marine mammal conservation laws and policies were  very important (83.1%). In addition, 95% of participants expressed opposition against  the hunting of whales (68.5% strongly opposed and 26.5% opposed), and the majority of  participants were against keeping dolphins in captivity no matter if the dolphins were  kept in a dolphinarium or a semi-natural habitat confined by nets (78.1%; 66.9%,  respectively). Furthermore, 93.3% of participants stated that they preferred to observe  dolphins in the wild rather than in a captive setting, whether semi-natural or a  dolphinarium. In addition to allowing a comparison of the attitudes and concerns of  whalewatchers in Belize with other surveyed areas, this survey provides data that could  assist the Belizean government with conservation-oriented decision-making. For  example, 70.4% of participants felt that it was very important that Belize has a strong  commitment to dolphin conservation and of those same participants, an additional 27.8%  of participants ranked cetacean conservation as important. Additionally, 68.1% of  participants said that they would actively boycott visiting pro-whaling countries and more  specifically, 59.5% of participants stated that they would boycott visiting Belize if the  country supported whaling, which has implications for Belize's position and policies at  the International Whaling Commission.


Katie Carroll

Date 2010
Pages 168
Publisher George Mason University
Department Department of Environmental Science and Policy
Degree Master of Science
Language English
University George Mason University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Belize
  4. Captivity
  5. Conservation
  6. Mammals
  7. Marine animals
  8. Marine mammals
  9. Nature
  10. Tourism and travel
  11. Whales
  12. Wild animals
  13. wildlife