Will whale watchers sacrifice personal experience to minimize harm to whales?

Megan Kessler*, Robert Harcourt, Wylie Bradford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) watchers off Sydney, Australia were surveyed using stated preference techniques to investigate whether they were prepared to prioritize minimizing impact on whales over other factors of their whale-watching experience. Differences between shoreand boat-based whale watchers (343 and 1,133 participants, respectively) to hypothetical whalewatching situations were investigated. Both groups had a strong preference for minimizing impact on the animals. Boat-based whale watchers placed a slightly higher priority on receiving environmental education. Both groups expressed a preference for approaching closer to the whales than currently permitted (i.e., to 50 m), but the high levels of satisfaction of boat-based whale watchers suggest closer approach distances are not necessary to ensure a positive whale-watching experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalTourism in Marine Environments
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Conjoint analysis
  • Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
  • Participant expectations
  • Whale watching


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