Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Geography and Sustainable Communities


Anthropogenic pressures including climate change have placed the oceans in an exceptionally vulnerable position. At the frontline of this global scale environmental crisis are the world’s coral reefs. Despite being of great ecological significance, these ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of human pressures and scientific predictions for the future of coral reefs are generally considered to be bleak. Action at the scale necessary to abate further environmental degradation has not yet been forthcoming.

While tourism on coral reefs can contribute to their degradation, wildlife and nature-based tourism is recognised as a mechanism to raise awareness and facilitate the motivation to engage in pro-environmental behaviours. The presence of emotions in marine tourism encounters is said to be influential in facilitating this change. However, as yet, researchers have paid less attention to the emotional journey of the marine tourist experience in its entirety and the relational aspects of this for conservation encounters. The primary aim of this thesis is to examine how emotional reef encounters with marine megafauna played out at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, over a period of 6-8 months and to assess their role in facilitating conservation outcomes.

FoR codes (2020)

4406 Human geography, 440608 Recreation, leisure and tourism geography, 350806 Tourist behaviour and visitor experience

This thesis is unavailable until Monday, July 21, 2025



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.