Coaches: Tony DellaTorre, Dennis Christen, and Gerrie VanZyl
Students: Mikela Zuniga, Jack Hemenway, Nicholas DellaTorre, Rylan Christen, Adeola Batiste, Max Roggermeier, Keelan Garcia, and Marc VanZyl.
Endangered sea turtles are being harmed by people in our community and state, and they don’t even realize it. The problem we've identified is the indirect interaction of people releasing helium filled balloons, and the impacts to endangered sea turtles and other wildlife. By understanding why people release balloons, educating them on the issue, and providing suggestions to alternatives, we hope to reduce the number of sea turtles that get entangled in or ingest balloons. We have developed an educational campaign to raise awareness to the issue and to inspire people to care and to help. To date, we have data to show that 96% of people surveyed care about sea turtles but are not aware of balloons being an issue; suggesting a very strong educational campaign could make a real difference. We also have metrics to show we have reached over 40,000 people through our social media efforts, website hits, and are developing a PSA for further outreach.