Tourism Causing Behavioral Changes of Whale Sharks in Western Australia

by Isabelle Ng

Western Australia’s Ningaloo Marine Park (NMP) is one of the few locations in the world where whale sharks are known to aggregate, which makes it a popular destination for nature-seeking tourists. Tourism levels are high between March and July, when whale sharks aggregate in high nutrient waters. While tourism may benefit from these aggregations, the whale shark is threatened and listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, most likely a result of human impacts such as tourism. The whale shark tourism industry is managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife under a species and management program, which is supposed to exercise “sustainable best practices” through a code of conduct. Continue reading

Tourism Causing Behavioral Changes of Whale Sharks in Western Australia

by Isabelle Ng

Western Australia’s Ningaloo Marine Park (NMP) is one of the few locations in the world where whale sharks are known to aggregate, which makes it a popular destination for nature-seeking tourists. Tourism levels are high between March and July, when whale sharks aggregate in high nutrient waters. While tourism may benefit from these aggregations, the whale shark is threatened and listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, most likely a result of human impacts such as tourism. The whale shark tourism industry is managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife under a species and management program, which is supposed to exercise “sustainable best practices” through a code of conduct. Continue reading

Marine Mollusc Anti-predator Escape Behavior Impaired with Future Ocean Acidification

by Jennifer Fields

Ocean acidification is known to have significant impacts on marine invertebrates in terms of calcification and reproduction; however, the effects of increased CO2 on marine invertebrate behavior are largely unknown. Watson et al. (2014) predicted marine conch snail predator-escape behavior to its predator cone shell would be impaired with near-future CO2 levels. The authors found that the decision-making of the conch snail was in fact impaired by ocean acidification, leaving the snails more vulnerable to predation. The change in behavior was fully restored by treatment with gabazine, suggesting that changes in acid-base regulation caused by increased CO2 in the ocean interfere with the invertebrate’s neurotransmitter receptor function. These alterations in behavior in marine invertebrates could have wide-ranging implications for the whole entire marine ecosystem. Continue reading