This report contains background information on the dolphin tourism industry, the impacts of vessel-based encounters on the behaviour and acoustics of wild dolphins, and the management of dolphin-human encounters. The report outlines the methods and results of a study investigating the influence of different types of vessels (motor vessel, yacht and kayak) on the behaviour and acoustics of dolphins in a region with relatively low levels of human activities. The results of this study may be used as a baseline for further research in this field where dolphins have had long-term or more intensive exposure to vessels and other human activities. A discussion comparing the findings of this research to other studies is provided, together with recommendations for improvement of current dolphin-watching guidelines and management regulations in Australia.
By Elizabeth R Hawkins and Don F Gartside