Whale Watching in the Salish Sea: A Case Study of On-board Interpretation and Willingness to Protect the Marine Environment
Barnes-Crouse, Celeste Julia
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This study presents findings on the information provided in the interpretation on whale watching tours in the Salish Sea, on the western coast of the United States, and examines its influence on tour passengers’ willingness to act to protect the marine environment. Participant observation was conducted to observe the interpretation and a pen-and-paper questionnaire was administered to passengers at the end of the tour. The core variables considered by this study to influence passengers’ willingness to act are knowledge of issues, knowledge of action strategies, and concern. In modeling outcomes of behavior/lifestyle change, using indicators from Orams’ (1999), these core variables were shown to influence willingness to act. Observations determined that more interpretation pertaining to knowledge of threats and existing regulations is needed. Similarly, suggestions of action strategies were rarely included in interpretation. Therefore, it is recommended that interpretation programs incorporate explicit messaging about issues facing the marine environment and offer action strategies in tandem with it. In this way, passengers will leave whale watching tours with useful knowledge for engaging in environmentally responsible behavior.
- Marine affairs