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Chantal Denise Pagel

Doctoral student | Marine Wildlife Tourism Professional, Auckland University of Technology

Chantal is a PhD candidate dealing with tourist experiences, risk and safety, and the role of social media within commercial in-water interactions with marine wildlife in the South Pacific.

While becoming a conservation biologist, Chantal has worked with sustainable wildlife watching since 2010 and developed the first ethogram of killer whale behaviours directed towards snorkelers and divers.

She has volunteered with the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society (MMCS) helping to understand the local dolphin watching industry and gained valuable insights into the work of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Fiji and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) in Bonn, Germany.

In 2019, Chantal joined the reviewing panel of the first global responsible whale-watching certification programme, initiated by World Cetacean Alliance (WCA), that seeks to identify best-practice operators in the sector.

Alongside her doctorate programme, Chantal has launched a topical website on the marine wildlife tourism experience to educate wildlife enthusiasts about respectful animal encounters and what is possible in the world.

To understand social media trends such as the wildlife selfie phenomenon, she started a complementary Instagram profile sharing comprehensive infographics for the wider public in which she has integrated her own artwork.


  • 2017–present
    PhD candidate, Auckland University of Technology


  • 2015 
    Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen/Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand, Conservation Biology (MSc/M.I.N.C.)
  • 2011 
    Carl-von-Ossietzky-Universitaet Oldenburg, Germany, Environmental Sciences (BSc)


  • 2019
    #BiteMe: Considering the potential influence of social media on in-water encounters with marine wildlife, Tourism in Marine Environments
  • 2017
    Swim encounters with killer whales (Orcinus orca) off Northern Norway: interactive behaviours directed towards human divers and snorkellers obtained from opportunistic underwater video recordings, Journal of Ecotourism

Professional Memberships

  • Panel Member of WCA Responsible Whale Watching Certification Programme