This summer, Susan Getty, a Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine student with the Center for Animals and Policy, spent the summer with whales and manta rays off the coast of Holbox Island, Mexico. She is studying to complete her Masters of Science in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) and part of her studies included a final project, for which she chose to focus on animal tourism. Getty explains:
Whale sharks congregate to eat plankton and fish eggs from mid-May to Mid-September, and since these fish are harmless (and spectacular!), people come from all over the world to swim with them. Whale shark tourism in the area has grown rapidly over the past few years, and tourists can now depart from destinations like Isla Mujeres and Cancun in addition to Holbox Island. This growth has led to the concern for the well being of the whale sharks, especially given their “vulnerable” status […] I was drawn to the whale shark tours as I am interested in the intersection of culture and animals, namely wildlife, and how this intersection drives policy. The aim of my research is to uncover how social dynamics contribute to the current problems of the industry with a specific focus on those who operate the tours – the guides and boat captains.
Though she cannot disclose much about the results of her research because she’s still gathering data, she shared these amazing videos with the Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University Facebook: