This study compares the management practices and content of the education/interpretation commentaries of two differing commercial dolphin watch operators in Nelson Bay, New South Wales, which is promoted as the “Dolphin Capital of Australia.” The major objective of the study was to measure and evaluate the postexperience effectiveness of the education/interpretation components on the self-reported proenvironmental attitudes, beliefs, intended behaviors, and intended actions of participants. A questionnaire was administered to participants immediately after their half-day dolphin watch cruises. The most important feature of the experience for all participants was the opportunity to see wild dolphins behaving naturally in their natural habitat. Although the management practices and content of the education and interpretation messages differed aboard the two vessels, no significant differences occurred between the two differing samples for impacts on visitors’ intended proenvironmental actions. Significant differences did occur between samples for the self-reported impacts on participants’ strength of support for conservation of marine wildlife and for conservation of dolphins. The effectiveness and influence of the dolphin watch cruises on proenvironmental attitudes, beliefs, intended behaviors, and actions of participants appears to be related to two factors: the quality and content of the education/interpretive message, and the intensity level of the dolphin watching experience.
Tourism in Marine Environments / Vol. 5, No. 2-3, pp.201-214