Dolphins in the time of Coronavirus

by Progetto Natura
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In the time of coronavirus, present and future are uncertain. However, we can be optimistic and happy looking at the results of the work done so far. Why?

MareTerra Onlus researchers published a study in the Journal of Ecotourism that involved Progetto Natura. The study wanted to demonstrate that dolphin watching activities can be considered ecotouristic with a positive impact on the marine environment and cetaceans. How? By increasing people's awareness and knowledge. This has been poorly tested. Here is the reason for the study carried out by MareTerra Onlus (Alghero - Sardinia) together with the Blue World Institute (Losinj - Croatia) and Giuseppe Melis professor of marketing and communication at the University of Cagliari.

 

The study was carried out asking the participants to fill two questionnaires, before and after our tours. This to test how the experience lived could change the opinions and perceptions of the participants.

Some data concerning Progetto Natura

WHO AND WHY GET ON BOARD?

- More women 55.5% on board than men 44.4% (0.1% did not answer, perhaps it wasn't sure about the sex!);
- High level of education of the participants;
- Main countries of origin are England, Italy, Sweden and Germany;
- 41% of the participants were not aware of the presence of cetaceans in Sardinia;
- For 68% of people, it was the first dolphin watching experience.
Among the reasons that pushed the participants to come on board, we point out that Progetto Natura is affiliated to a research group for the conservation of the environment.

CAN PEOPLE REALLY CHANGE AFTER OUR TOURS?

The results show that:

- There is an increased interest in 'learning about dolphin biology and/or ocean conservation';
- There is an increased interest in 'learning what I can do to help support ocean conservation';
- People become aware of the fact that there are guidelines for approaching cetaceans and that Progetto Natura adopts them;
- After the tour, participants became significantly more sensitive about their sense of responsibility for marine pollution and marine protection;
- After the tour, participants are willing to pay an additional fee for dolphin watching tour to support marine conservation;
- Getting as close as possible to the animals is the first expectation of participants. When they receive explanations on the negative impact of the proximity of the boat on the dolphin welfare, the satisfaction of the experience increase regardless of the dolphins' proximity.
This last aspect is very important because it shows that with good communication on board, the implementation of mandatory rules for dolphin watching activities will not be perceived as detrimental to the success of dolphin watching companies’ business.

DOES PROGETTO NATURA HELP THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT AND DOLPHINS?

Yes, it is :-) Environmental education was one of the greatest expectations of our customers. After our tours, people have a desire to receive even more information and therefore to participate in other ecotourism activities. This shows how environmental education and ecotourism strengthen each other by increasing the positive effect of the experience. When dolphin watching is done following the principles of ecotourism, as in our case, it can be considered as a marine conservation tool.
The study also highlighted the high level of customer satisfaction.


We can be proud of all this and we renew our invitation to take part in whale watching activities only when performed by qualified personnel or with researchers on board. To understand this, check on the company's website if the adoption of a responsible code of conduct is mentioned or by asking the guides directly at the time of booking.

We are going the right way. In these days of physical distance, we continue to work and study to make ourselves even stronger and more determined when the emergency has passed. We have to work from home and we stopped our activities before it became mandatory to protect everyone's health. We miss dolphins but we hold on and grit our teeth. Soon we will return to experience the joy of the dolphins all together. Those moments that now seem so far away, will come back and we'll live them with even more joy!

See You On Board Soon!

 

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