Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Recreation, Parks and Tourism Resources

Committee Chair

Robert Burns

Committee Member

Jasmine Moreira

Committee Member

Michael Strager

Committee Member

David Smaldone


Effective management and monitoring of visitor recreational use is fundamental in marine protected areas. It is common to hear that tourism and outdoor recreation are often qualified as double-edged activities, making valuable socioeconomic contributions but also causing degradation of the environment. The convergence of social and natural resource research and practices can help managers to create better policies that will maximize human benefits from, and minimize human pressures on, ocean and coastal environments. For this study online surveys were sent via Qualtrics to email addresses obtained from the state of Florida during the summer of 2020. The first paper assessed user satisfaction and crowding at Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The results of the first paper showed that respondents felt very satisfied and only slightly crowded while snorkeling or scuba diving. An ANOVA showed that satisfaction levels were significantly lower in users who saw more people than they expected. The second paper examined an Importance-Performance Analysis (IPA) of recreationists (i.e. snorkelers and scuba divers) and managers’ environmental perceptions at Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The results of the second paper showed that from the recreationists’ perspective, managers should overall keep up the good work. From the manager’s perspective, seeing a healthy reef and diving on an area free of trash are the two items that they should concentrate on and improve the most. Social science insights can aid decision-making processes and improve recreational experiences for snorkelers and scuba divers while still protecting the marine biodiversity in the Sanctuary.