By: Jason Rolfe
On December 6, 80 volunteers gathered to help Protectores de Cuencas clean up five beaches near Guánica Bay, Puerto Rico. This event kicked off a series of cleanups within the NOAA Marine Debris Program-funded “Think Before You Drop It” project, a research-based social marketing campaign that will reduce litter on beaches in Guánica/Río Loco Watershed, Puerto Rico.
I was fortunate enough to work with community members, stakeholders, and beachgoers to remove debris from the beaches while the “Think Before You Drop It” research team gathered debris information, made site observations, and taught the volunteers, children and adults alike, about ways that they can protect the valuable natural resources right in their backyard from the impacts of marine debris.
And this is just the beginning. Over the course of this two-year project, the project team will develop techniques to reduce marine debris throughout the Guánica watershed. Through a series of workshops, children and young adults will develop messages for a behavior change campaign, based on the research from the cleanups. They will present these marine debris reduction messages to their peers and parents at outreach events.
As the MDP and Protectores de Cuencas continue this partnership, we’ll share project updates and photos from the volunteers as they learn about the ocean and how to prevent marine debris.