Spectacular Sea Turtles: Circuits of a Wildlife Ecotourism Discourse in Hawai‘I – Applied Linguistics Review – article

Spectacular Sea Turtles: Circuits of a Wildlife Ecotourism Discourse in Hawai‘I

Gavin Lamb | Applied Linguistics Review


This paper examines the discursive practices of sea turtle ecotourism that transform a beach in Hawai‘i into a popular sea turtle tourism destination. I analyze the circulation of an ecotourism discourse of spectacular nature that cycles through several distinct circuits of discursive remediation to produce Laniākea Beach as a sea turtle tourism destination. This ecotourism discourse entangles sea turtles and people into a discursive-material infrastructure of spectacular nature which the sea turtle tourism industry in Hawai‘i enlists to commodify human encounters with this charismatic species. Bringing complementary approaches in ecotourism studies and mediated discourse analysis that take human-nonhuman embodied (inter)actions as a starting point for discourse analysis, I trace how this ecotourism discourse itinerates across three distinct circuits of sea turtle tourism: (1) commercial tourism representations (on websites, guidebooks and street advertising), (2) in tourists’ embodied encounters with sea turtles (touching, pointing at, swimming with and talking about actual sea turtles), and (3) through online remediation of these embodied encounters (on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook). The study suggests implications for how embodied and material approaches to discourse analysis in applied linguistics can bring empirical focus to the (un)ethical dimensions of wildlife ecotourism practices.


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