Assessing the Social Carrying Capacity of Diving Sites in Mabul Island, Malaysia

Liye Zhang, Shan Shan CHUNG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This study has explored social carrying capacity of an underwater environment based on divers’ perceived crowding. Two dimensions were assessed, the number of divers seen and the proximity of diver. Data were obtained from a survey of 132 divers dived in Mabul Island, Malaysia during 2013–2014. Photographs depicting four levels of diver number and four levels of diver proximity in different combinations were shown to the respondents for assessing their acceptability. Between the two variables, the “number of divers” was the most influential factor for divers’ perceived crowding. Divers would start to feel unacceptably crowded if 8–9 divers were visible to them at one time. Based on this, it is likely that the use level of diving sites in Mabul Island has already exceeded its social carrying capacity. Implications for future research and diving tourism management for Mabul Island are also discussed in the paper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1467-1477
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Pollution

User-Defined Keywords

  • Crowding
  • Marine tourism
  • Scuba diving
  • Social carrying capacity


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