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Publication Date

Summer 2023

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies


Kathryn Davis; Costanza Rampini; Rachel Lazzeri-Aerts


Marine Protected Area (MPA) signage has been recognized as the primary means of informing visitors of MPA presence, purpose, and regulations. This research examined the role of signage in helping provide protection for five MPAs of the Monterey Bay region. Observational methods were utilized to evaluate MPA signage coverage at fifty-five entrance points and visitor engagement with eight interpretive MPA signs at main entrances. The percentage of visitors who stopped to view the signage (attracting power) and the amount of time visitors spent viewing the signage (holding time) were documented. A signage quality rating system was developed to evaluate the signage quality of fifteen interpretive signs in the categories of information, graphics, and location. Results from this research revealed low attracting power of interpretive signage, as just 10.6% of the 2,869 visitors stopped to view the signage. Holding time was also low with a median viewing time of ten seconds. A Spearman’s rank analysis revealed signage location was strongly correlated with attracting power (p = <0.001, Rs = 0.613). Just over half (54.5%) of the entrance points contained MPA signage. Overall, this research concludes that current signage may not be providing sufficient protection for marine environments. MPA managers should closely consider the locations selected for future signage and reevaluate the current locations and conditions of signage. Due to the low visitor engagement with signage, increasing on-site enforcement and educational outreach efforts may be needed to achieve sufficient protection for marine environments of the Monterey Bay region.