Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Deserai Crow

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Andrew Martin


The biggest fish in the sea the whale shark, Rhincodon typus, still remains one of the biggest mysteries. This species named the whale shark, after it’s size, is one of the most charismatic shark species in the world. This colossal, yet harmless shark surfaces in certain areas across the globe. The sites where these sharks surface and aggregate are transforming into ecotourism hotspots. Globally, these ecotourism sites are valued at US$ 66 million (Higman, Luck, & CABI, 2008). However, a growing problem with these sites is the absence of positive management strategies that protect the sharks, and allow humans to benefit from interacting with them. This study, through the use of a literature review and a policy analysis provides suggestions for future management strategies. This study analyses the positive tourism management strategies at three ecotourism sites. Overall, this industry is growing at a rapid rate, and the need for protection of this elusive species is essential. This study has the potential to benefit and provide suggestions for upcoming R. typus ecotourism sites that aim to have a well-managed site.