Information Hub - Responsible Tourism


Code of Conduct poster for diving with Whale Sharks. 

Author(s): Project AWARE Foundation

Code of conduct for swimming with whale sharks for tourist safety and to lessen disturbence to the Whale Shark. 

Author(s): LAMAVE
A 10-Step Tourism Code of Conduct to avoid disturbing Manta Rays while swimming with them. 
Author(s): Manta Trust

This Guide aims to provide practical, science-based information for shark and ray tourism operators who want to offer the best possible experience to their customers, while conserving species and habitats and making a positive contribution to local communities. It provides guidance, and tools that can be tailored to local circumstances, enabling operators to improve the educational quality, safety, and sustainability of their businesses.

Author(s): Manta Trust, Project AWARE, WWF

This a study on Manta rays (Manta birostris) and manta ecotourism in the Maldives. The paper investigates the different levels of interaction between manta rays and humans. Results show a clear distinction between the reactions of the sexes and age classes; females displaying the lowest level of reaction, with juveniles exhibiting higher levels of disturbance in comparison to the mature adults. These differences have implications for the ecotourism industry and must be considered in order to reduce negative impacts on manta populations. 

Author(s): Annie Murray
The number of tourists travelling to the Maldives specifically to swim with charismatic marine megafauna has increased over recent years. Manta ray tourism in the Maldives is estimated to be worth US$8.1 million annually in direct revenue alone. This type of tourism clearly has significant benefits to the Maldivian economy but there is anecdotal evidence that large numbers of tourists at popular dive and snorkel sites is having a negative impact on reef manta rays’ natural behaviour.
Author(s): Ella Garrud

Whilst the MPA designation of Hanifaru (Maldives) provides an excellent foundation for ongoing management, this study emphasises the urgent need for relevant regulations and onsite enforcement to be implemented in order to ensure the future of the site. Despite its legal status, there is no onsite government presence to monitor the intensity of site use or to enforce regulations in place. 

Author(s): Katie Brooks
Encounters with marine animals provide tourists with a unique and memorable wildlife experience and can make considerable economic contributions to local communities. The large population of mantas within the Maldives, and the predictability of certain aggregations, has allowed the development of a significant manta ray tourism industry. Previous observations of tourism impacts on mantas in the Maldives, however, have highlighted issues of concern, and there is evidence that tourism pressure on the resident manta ray population is increasing.
Author(s): Bec Atkins
Video footage of interactions between humans and manta rays were filmed at cleaning and feeding stations within Baa Atoll, Maldives. A total of 263 unique interactions of both divers and snorkelers were filmed and analysed for a number of variable including interaction type and the response elicited from manta rays.
Author(s): Bex Lynam

Factsheet on tourism in Baa Atoll and Hanifaru Bay (Maldives), where large numbers of manta rays and whale sharks are found seasonally, created to produce a guide to best-practise shark and ray tourism. Hanifaru is a Marine Protected Area (MPA) since 2009; the MPA regulations include a limit on the number of visitors, set a maximum time to stay in the bay for tourists, and bans on scuba diving and fishing. 

Author(s): Manta Trust, Project AWARE, WWF
Factsheet on Shark Reef National Marine Park in Fiji and how the coastal community can benefit from shark tourism. Shark Reef is known for close encounters with seven species of shark, with the main attraction being large numbers of adult bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) that can be encountered all year round.
The removal of any marine species, including corals, are prohibited within Shark Reef Marine Reserve. 
Author(s): Manta Trust, Project AWARE and WWF
Factsheet on Monad Shoal, a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Philippines, created to produce a guide to best-practise shark and ray tourism.
Author(s): Manta Trust, Project AWARE and WWF

Shows best practice SCUBA and snorkel procedure for swimming with Angelshark. Guidance developed by the Angel Shark Conservation Network (ASCN).

Author(s): Angel Shark Conservation Network

The Manta Trust developed a code of conduct for scuba diving and snorkelling based on quantifiable research to promote responsible tourism; however, research on scuba divermanta interactions remains limited. This study aimed to increase available knowledge on scuba diving with reef manta rays through behavioural analysis of video footage from cleaning stations across the Maldives and to determine if the current recommended guidelines are effective at minimizing disturbance by scuba divers. Overall, scuba divers were found to have a minimal impact on reef manta rays at cleaning stations.

Author(s): Nicole Pelletier

The following guidelines have been designed to help water-userd reduce the risk of injuring or harassing Basking Sharks.

Author(s): The Shark Trust

As part of the How to Swim with Manta Rays initiative, the Mata Trust converted their Code of Conduct into a video media tool - designed to inform and engage tourists, assist operators, and ultimately help minimise human impacts on manta rays around the world. See video using link:

Author(s): Carl F. Bucherer, Danny Copeland