Crowding in marine environments: Divers and whale watchers in the Azores

Julia Bentz, António Rodrigues, Philip Dearden, Helena Calado, Fernando Lopes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing numbers of visitors in marine environments have resulted in a growing importance of social impact understanding such as crowding. This study examines perceived crowding of divers and whale watching tourists in the Azores. Reported encounters and encounter norms for both whale watching boats and divers were studied and minimum acceptable conditions for both activities determined. Perceived crowding was not correlated to specialization of users and only impacted the overall satisfaction of divers. The satisfaction of whale watchers was not altered through perceived crowding. Environmental impacts were not perceived differently by participants reporting different levels of crowding. The five different case study islands showed different levels of crowding. Management interventions to contribute to sustainable and satisfactory marine wildlife experiences include spatial zoning, achieving higher compliance with existing regulations, improved educational and awareness programs and limiting the number of divers at some dive sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-85
Number of pages9
JournalOcean & Coastal Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • Diving
  • Marine wildlife tourism
  • Perceived crowding
  • Social norms
  • Sustainable management
  • Tourism management
  • Whale watching


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