Modeling the impacts of cetacean-focused tourism in Taiwan: observations from cetacean watching boats: 2002-2005. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cetacean-focused tourism in Taiwan has grown rapidly since 1997. This development, measured in terms of both number of tour boats and visitors, has resulted in many resource management challenges stemming from the absence of regulation and scientific data. To fill this void in empirical evidence, we used 464 sighting records from 2002 to 2005 to model the impact of cetacean-focused tourism. Cox proportional hazard analysis indicated cetacean avoidance responses to cetacean watching boats were strongly associated with pod size, mother-calf pairs, and cetacean-vessel distances. Mother-calf pairs abandoned their avoidance tactic by 55% compared to noncalf groups when tour boats approached. Second, the hazard ratio of abundance was 0.996, suggesting that the odds of encountering avoidance responses by the cetaceans decreased by 42% for every 100-member increase in the cetacean pod size. Last, distances maintained by boats from the cetaceans was positively related to avoidance responses (i.e., less avoidance behavior with closer interaction). Based on our findings, we have the following recommendations: (a) limit vessels from approaching mothers with calves, (b) limit vessels from approaching small groups of cetaceans, (c) reduced avoidance behavior to boat traffic may be a red flag for potential long-term disturbance, and (d) apply the "precautionary principle" based on the best scientific information available in cetacean-based tourism in Taiwan. These recommendations will help contribute to the sustainable development of cetacean-focused tourism in Taiwan.

published proceedings

  • Environ Manage

author list (cited authors)

  • Tseng, Y., Huang, Y., Kyle, G. T., & Yang, M.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Tseng, Yung-Ping||Huang, Yu-Chin||Kyle, Gerard T||Yang, Ming-Ching

publication date

  • January 2011