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As has been described for whales and seals, tourism also disturbs marine and coastal birds. A study in Central Chile showed that the presence of humans impacted negatively on birds, altering their spatial and temporal distribution. During the summer tourist season when people converged on the coast, disturbance levels to the bird colonies were highest. Another study, carried out in the Galapagos Islands, showed that tourists changed the behaviour of red footed and blue footed boobies. Levels of disturbance were correlated to the distance kept between individual tourists and the birds.


Picture courtesy of NOAA.

Disturbance from tourists at times involves physiological costs to the birds. By flying away from a disturbance, birds can experience an increase in heart and respiratory rate, an increase in blood flow to skeletal muscle, a rise in body temperature, a rise in blood sugar levels, and a reduction of blood flow to the skin and digestive system. The energetic costs of escaping such disturbances, added to the time lost from normal feeding and foraging can become detrimental to the animal. Should the disturbance intensify or become more frequent, fitness of the animals might be reduced ultimately leading to breeding failure. Loss of strength may also increase the risk of predation and disease. Moreover, some animals may migrate to a different area in order to avoid tourist disturbance potentially leading to altered ecological community structures. This in turn may have impacts on the remaining species, possibly facilitating invasion of exotic species. As species differ in their ability to withstand disturbance some sensitive species will be more seriously affected.

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Dr. Ellen K. Rudolph
DescriptionI care deeply about our natural world. In my work as an international conservation photographer and educator I seek to impart to others a sense of the fragility of our world and the necessity for humans to protect our Earth from further destructive aspects of technology and unbridled growth. I am, in that regard, a fervent student of physicist David Bohm's wholeness and implicate order, which offers promising metaphors for reality as an interdependent whole. Western science interprets life as a series of separate problems with separate solutions. Newtonian mechanics is not some [partial] explanation of the way things work -- according to western science it is a [complete] explanation, so much so that all that is left for science is to now fill in a few remaining blanks. We are, in fact, so used to this idea by now that we forget how new a thought this is in human history. But this mechanistic thinking with its 'clockwork' metaphors may not only not be correct; it may distort our perceptions of reality. Ancient holistic ideas decry the cutting up of Nature into manageable, independent parts that can be understood individually and so do I. It has driven me towards an ever-increasing awareness of the need for a fundamental change in our collective perspective from the fragmentary essence of western scientific views to one that recognizes and celebrates the inherent interdependencies of living systems. - Dr. Ellen K. Rudolph
Organization Freelance
10900 Oakhurst Rd
Largo   Florida
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Telephone+1 727 517 2767
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