Australian study into how seals react to boats prompts new ecotourism regulations

ScienceDaily | 12/20/2018 | Staff
shardonay (Posted by) Level 3
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"Although the purpose of ecotourism is to give patrons the opportunity to observe animals in the wild engaging in typical behaviors, ecotourism-based human interactions may insteadalter pinniped behavior by initiating responses indicative of predation avoidance," explain the scientists.

"The periods fur seals spend ashore at colonies are particularly important for resting, evading predators, molting, breeding and rearing young. Fleeing behaviors in themselves expend energy, and time spent in the water as a result of flight responses can also be energetically costly," they add.

Recommendations - Management - Guidelines - Ecotourism - Animals

To provide recommendations for appropriately informed management guidelines, so that ecotourism does not clashes with the animals' welfare, the Australian research team of Julia Back and Prof John Arnould of Deakin University, Dr Andrew Hoskins, CSIRO, and Dr Roger Kirkwood, Phillip Island Nature Park, observed the response to approaching boats of a breeding colony of Australian fur seals on Kanowna Island in northern Bass Strait, southeastern Australia. Their study is published in the open-access journal Nature Conservation.

Whenever a seal detects a threat while onshore, they first change posture, watch the object and remain alert and vigilant until the danger is gone. In the field survey, such a response was triggered when the research boat approached the colony at a distance of 75 m. Interestingly, this reaction would be more pronounced in the morning (the researchers would normally visit the colony...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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