Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Nude bathing in the coastal zone has become a challenging issue for coastal managers. This thesis focuses on the conflicts involving public uses of a beach on a national wildlife refuge. The beach is nesting habitat for the piping plover (Charadrius melodus), a species listed as threatened on the federal Endangered Species List. The beach has also been traditionally used by nude bathers. The study consists of six parts: a brief natural history of the piping plover; management problems of federal refuges; the history and political conflicts relevant to the recreational use of this beach; an analysis of the users and their use of National Wildlife refuges; and recommendations to coastal managers. Local newspapers were used to document the history, and surveys were used to collect information about the nude bathers and the incidence of this activity on other Atlantic Coast refuges. The study found that several other coastal refuges had been used by nude bathers and also serve as habitat for piping plovers. of the refuges surveyed all had closed at least a portion of the refuge to protect the plover. The study concludes that nude bathing and wildlife preservation are not mutually exclusive activities. Accordingly, management recommendations are given to coastal managers who must confront the nude bathing issue and to the specific actors involved in this particular case study.