Increased knowledge affects public attitude and perception towards elasmobranchs and support for conservation

Published: Jul 1, 2022
sharks and rays public elasmobranch knowledge public attitude shark conservation

The tendency of world media to villainize of sharks has likely contributed to a disparity in the distribution of research and conservation resources among threatened marine megavertebrates, with elasmobranchs losing out. Increased public knowledge on elasmobranchs can shape public attitude and foster and gain support for elasmobranch conservation. Through an online survey, this study aimed to evaluate the drivers of public knowledge and examine linkages between awareness of elasmobranchs and attitude toward their conservation. To explore the relationships and effects between the different predicting variables and public elasmobranch knowledge and attitude indices, bi- and multi-variate analysis and a partial least squares path model were used. The results indicated that the average public elasmobranch knowledge of the Cypriot population was moderate and the average public attitude towards elasmobranchs was relatively low. Marine-related activities and marine-related education were highly correlated with increased public elasmobranch knowledge and were the strongest predictors of the partial least squares path model which explained a high degree of variation in elasmobranch knowledge. Public elasmobranch knowledge was highly correlated with public attitude towards elasmobranchs. The findings of this study highlighted the importance of ocean literacy and education and provide insights into the mechanisms for developing and designing successful advocacy actions for elasmobranch conservation.

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