The impact of wildlife tourism on the foraging ecology and nutritional condition of an apex predator

Lauren Meyer, Heidi Pethybridge, Crystal Beckmann, Barry Bruce, Charlie Huveneers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Shark and ray tourism is growing in popularity and often necessitates attractants like bait and chum to encourage close encounters. Such practices remain contentious amongst stakeholders as they may affect the species they target. We used lipid and fatty acid profiles to investigate the effects of South Australia's cage-diving industry on the diet and nutritional condition of white sharks Carcharodon carcharias (n = 75). We found no evidence of dietary shifts or reduced nutritional condition after a >3 week period of tourism-exposed residency at the Neptune Islands where the cage-diving industry operates. White sharks fed on a variety of prey groups, similar to other populations around Southern Australia that are not exposed to ecotourism provisioning. These findings indicate that current cage-diving operations in South Australia do not alter white shark diet and nutritional condition where prey resources are abundant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-215
Number of pages10
JournalTourism Management
Volume75
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Keywords

  • Biochemical tracer
  • Carcharodon carcharias
  • Ecotourism
  • Fatty acid
  • Management
  • Provisioning
  • White shark

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