Lower Laguna Madre Bilingual Marine Debris Awareness

Graphic of a turtle biting a bottle, then a photo of a bottle with turtle bites taken out,
This project is focusing on educating the Lower Laguna Madre community about the impacts of debris on marine life, such as the ingestion of debris. In the photo on the right, you can clearly see sea turtle bites taken out of a plastic bottle. (Photo Credit: NOAA (left) and Sea Turtle, Inc. (right))

Sea Turtle, Inc., with support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, raised awareness of the effects of marine debris on endangered sea turtles in the lower Laguna Madre and Gulf of Mexico by creating permanent, bilingual marine debris education displays and engaging the community in cleanups.

Region: Gulf of Mexico

Project Dates: August 2016 - December 2018

Who is involved?
Sea Turtle, Inc., with the support of the NOAA Marine Debris Program Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach Grant, worked with Cameron Country Parks and developed bilingual signage about marine debris, that targeted K-12 students in the Point Isabel Independent School District and got them involved in marine debris education and cleanups.

What is the project and why is it important?
South Padre Island is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and Laguna Madre Bay. These waters are home to five species of threatened and endangered sea turtles: Kemps ridley, Atlantic green, loggerhead, hawksbill, and leatherback. Over the past five years, Sea Turtle, Inc. has seen over 100 sea turtles that have stranded due to an injury caused by marine debris. Land-based litter and derelict fishing gear is a constant problem in high-traffic areas of the island, especially peak tourist season during holidays and summer months.

To address these debris problems on South Padre Island, Texas, Sea Turtle, Inc. produced signs in both English and Spanish that are displayed on the island’s jetties and piers. The bilingual signs target visitors and non-commercial fisherman who are using these areas. An interactive, permanent display in the Sea Turtle, Inc. education facility was also produced and targets visitors of all ages who tour the facility. In addition, educational programs at the facility target K-12 students in the Lower Laguna Madre area who, along with their families, utilize South Padre Island beaches on a year-round basis. These programs introduce the subject of marine debris and emphasize the importance of both marine debris prevention and cleanups for reducing the impacts on wildlife, using case studies of sea turtles as real-life examples of marine debris’ effect on marine life.