By: Leah Henry
In a continued celebration of sea turtles this week, we’re highlighting a long-term marine debris removal project that is bringing turtles back to the beaches of Florida and an outreach project that aims to prevent balloons from becoming debris. Unfortunately, turtles sometimes ingest the balloons or become entangled in the ribbon attachments.
NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and Restoration Center support the Coastal Cleanup Corporation (CCC) in its effort to remove marine debris from sea turtle nesting habitat.
In Elliott Key, Florida, CCC and its volunteers focus on removing plastics, glass, foam, rubber and discarded fishing gear that washes up on local beaches and interferes with female sea turtles’ journey from the ocean to their nesting sites. In one year, the volunteers and project leaders removed 3.39 tons of marine debris. This removal and restoration project provides long-term ecological improvements to coastal habitat used by endangered loggerhead and green sea turtles.
Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management Program (VA CZM) and the NOAA Marine Debris Program use social marketing to mitigate the impacts of balloon debris.
VA CZM at the Department of Environmental Quality designs a social marketing campaign to discourage balloon releases and encourage environmentally sensitive alternatives. By engaging and educating a wide variety of stakeholders, including event planners, funeral directors, car dealership employees, and sports team managers, we hope to reduce balloon litter in Virginia and protect the many different species affected by balloon debris, including the juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle pictured above!