Learning from a provisioning site: code of conduct compliance and behaviour of whale sharks in Oslob, Cebu, Philippines
Shark diving tourism is a burgeoning, global industry. The growing perception that sharks can be worth more alive for tourism than dead in a fish market has become one of the leading contemporary arguments for shark conservation. However, there still exists concern that many aspects of shark-related tourism (e.g., provisioning) may alter natural behaviors and foraging areas, as well as pose a threat to humans by associating people with food. These concerns are largely driven by the previously limited scientific knowledge regarding the effects of shark diving tourism on shark biology, the marine environment and human interactions. Here we review and summarize previous research in these areas and evaluate the potential effects of dive tourism on shark behavior, ecology and subsequent human dimensions. To assist the development of future research, we provide a set of research questions. Taken together, we conclude that under the right conditions and if done in a precautionary, responsible manner, shark diving can provide a net conservation benefit (i.e., garnering of protective measures, raising awareness, instilling a conservation ethic) for a handful of species. 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.