Mystic Aquarium: Teens Take Initiative
New Bedford & YCC observe a penguin at Mystic Aquarium.
New Bedford & YCC observe a penguin at Mystic Aquarium
Mystic Aquarium and the NOAA Marine Debris Program worked with teens to educate and inspire their peers.

What’s the project?
The Teen Marine Debris Initiative brings together high school students from Connecticut to brainstorm and develop marine debris education and outreach projects through peer-to-peer learning. The teens are showcasing their projects at local aquariums throughout the region.

What does it accomplish?
Fifteen high-school students from Sea Research Foundation’s Mystic Aquarium Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) and Maritime Aquarium collaborated throughout summer 2014 to motivate the public to take action and raise awareness about the global marine debris problem. The teens designed public outreach activities focusing on litter and derelict fishing gear, particularly in reducing the consumption of single use items and even checking if the cosmetic products people consume have microbeads – a type of microplastic, to help the public reduce their daily marine debris impact.
At the end of the summer, these students will create a marine debris interpretation guide with associated resources for project participants to share with Mystic, Maritime and other local aquariums. The guide will provide direction on marine debris lessons and specific marine debris knowledge gained through those lessons. As a result of this project, they will have created a strong network of marine debris activist peers and conservation aware partners within their facilities.

Who’s involved?
The Teen Marine Debris Initiative is organized by Sea Research Foundation’s Mystic Aquarium with regional partnerships with regional partners Maritime Aquarium (Norwalk, CT), Ella T. Grasso Technical High School (Groton, CT), Science and Technology Magnet School of Southeastern Connecticut (New London, CT), and Two Rivers Magnet High School (Hartford, CT). The NOAA Marine Debris Program partnered with Sea Research Foundation on this project as part of its Prevention through Education and Outreach Partnership grants.

What’s something unique about this project?
To kick-off the project, Mystic Aquarium’s YCC organized the Teen Marine Debris Summit, a three-day immersion workshop organized and led by YCC members and project participants. Held in June in conjunction with World Oceans Day, the Teen Marine Debris Summit brought together a blend of speakers and interactive workshops, all of which seek to build the Sea Research Foundation’s capacity of teen volunteers in their effort to inform the public on the marine debris and protecting marine resources.