Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Niels West


This thesis examines the educational program of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), and its effectiveness for divers and snorkelers. It was hypothesized that intended educational messages were not reaching divers and snorkelers at the sanctuary. Between late December 1996 and early January 1997, 194 surveys were conducted in person in the Key Largo region. Data was collected regarding the demographics of the divers and snorkelers and their purposes for coming to dive in the Keys. In particular, information was accumulated regarding whether they learned anything about the marine environment of the Florida Keys, what they learned, and how they gained this knowledge. Survey respondents were also asked whether they believe that the information gained has affected their behavior.

Out of 120 divers and 74 snorkelers, some 55 percent do not believe that they learned anything over the course of their visit, while some 42 percent believe that their knowledge increased by approximately two points on a scale of zero to ten. The primary knowledge gained included the recreational value of the Keys and human impact on the environment. Most of the knowledge gains were ascribed to sanctuary brochures and dive magazines. Some 106 respondents believe that their new knowledge has had a positive effect on their behavior, with many of them expressing that they are more careful of the environment and no longer touch coral. Recommendations for improving diver and snorkeler education in the FKNMS were also provided.

It is hoped that this evaluation will serve as a source of information as the FKNMS works to improve its comprehensive educational program. This research should be extended throughout the sanctuary, and further research should be conducted to evaluate other educational programs run by the FKNMS.



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