Inspiring Ocean Conservation

January 1st, 2012 | EVALUATION

The mission of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans. From 2006 to 2008, Aquarium staff members and consultants conducted a series of qualitative and quantitative studies to assess the extent to which visiting the Aquarium engaged, inspired and empowered visitors to care about and for the oceans. The Inspiring Ocean Conservation (IOC) Project included four phases. During Phase I, the researchers consulted with Aquarium staff and conducted in-depth interviews with visitors to develop a logic model. The model outlined the conservation outcomes that could result from visiting the Aquarium, along with factors that might influence these outcomes. During Phase II, the researchers conducted an onsite visitor survey to assess the outcomes that emerged immediately following a person's visit. During Phase III, the researchers surveyed Phase II's sample of visitors online six months after their visit. During Phase IV, researchers observed a sample of visitors throughout their entire visit and interviewed them in depth before and after their visit. The findings from all four phases showed that many visitors who encountered conservation information or experiences during their visit retained and translated these encounters into personal intentions and actions that persisted for months following their visit. Impacts were greatest for visitors who were conservation oriented when they arrived at the Aquarium, viewed more of the Aquarium's conservation exhibits, attended certain programs, talked to Aquarium staff or volunteers or took home a printed guide on how to choose sustainable seafood. Interesting findings emerged with respect to how visitors carried out their visits, which varied according to visitors' characteristics, backgrounds and interests. The project also documented how crowding during busy periods in the Aquarium diminished visitor outcomes. These findings have important implications for the Aquarium and for other aquariums and zoos that promote environmental conservation.



Team Members

Cynthia Vernon, Evaluator, Monterey Bay Aquarium
Steven Yalowitz, Evaluator, Monterey Bay Aquarium
Ava Ferguson, Evaluator, Monterey Bay Aquarium
Victoria Macfarlane, Evaluator, Monterey Bay Aquarium


Audience: Adults | Evaluators | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | Education and learning science | Geoscience and geography
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: Aquarium and Zoo Exhibits | Exhibitions