Travelers on the major highways to and from Ocean City, Md., are getting a lesson in geography and the environment - all while driving 55 mph past new highways signs that mark the boundary of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The first new signs, unveiled on U.S. Route 50 and Maryland Route 90, were unveiled Nov. 14 by members of the Chesapeake Bay Commission at a ribbon- cutting ceremony.

The signs are original works of art reflecting the symbols of the Bay - blue crabs, striped bass, herons, marshes and clean water. They are part of an educational effort to help the public understand more about the Bay restoration and are intended to highlight the concept of a watershed - or drainage basin

The Bay watershed consists of 64,000 square miles of land that drains into the Chesapeake and includes all or parts of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, New York and Delaware.

"Most people in this region have no idea that they impact the health of the Chesapeake Bay on a daily basis," said John F. Wood, Jr., chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission's Maryland Delegation. "The signs are meant to get them thinking about where they live and its connection to the Bay, whether it's Worcester, St. Mary's or Frederick County. We hope these signs remind people that they are part of the solution - the Bay is getting better, but we need everyone's help to continue to restore and protect this national treasure."

Maryland state highway officials estimate that 8.5 million cars a year will pass the signs on their way to and from Ocean City. Similar signs to mark the watershed boundary are planned for major routes in Pennsylvania and Virginia, and possibly New York, Delaware and West Virginia.

The Chesapeake Bay Commission, which funded the signs, is a tri-state legislative advisory commission formed in 1980 to help guide Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania in cooperatively managing and restoring the Bay.