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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - South Padre Island, Texas, USA

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South Padre Island, Texas, USA
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Registered: August 2019
City/Town/Province: Edinburg
Posts: 1
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Apprentice Ecologist Project

"Get in Motion save the oceans"

My name is Hailey, I'm 13 years old and I live in Edinburg, Texas. I chose to do an Apprentice Ecologist project to help raise awareness on endangered sea turtles which are the following: Hawksbill Sea Turtles, Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles, Loggerhead Sea Turtles, Green Sea Turtles, and Leatherback Sea Turtles. Sea turtles are vital to ocean ecosystems. Hawksbills are a rare turtle species generally due to human destruction. Hawksbills turtle eggs are eaten and killed for their meat and their shells. They are unique because they help conserve the health of coral reefs. They do this by removing prey such as sponges from the reef's which also help provide better access for reef fish to eat. Kemp's Ridley turtles are in decline primarily due to human acts, including the collection of adult sea turtles, eggs and also minor catches from fishing operations. These are unique sea turtles because they are the only species that nest during the day, making their mass nesting very vulnerable to poaching. Loggerhead sea turtles are frequently accidentally captured by fishing gear. The loggerhead turtles are distinctive; they eat hard-shelled prey and help recycle essential nutrients into the oceans. They also help balance the ocean floor residues. The Green turtles are endangered due to overharvesting of their eggs, them getting trapped in fishing gear and the loss of the nests. Green turtles are unusual because they help maintain our oceans by eating the seagrass, the seagrass they eat become recycled nutrients to many species that live in the seagrass ecosystem. Leatherback turtles are becoming extinct due to habitat loss and destruction, their meat consumption and gathering of eggs. Leatherback turtles are known to eat large amounts of jellyfish which keeps the population of jellyfish in check. Sea Turtles preserve marine habitats, help steer nutrients, and are part of a balanced food system. As they decrease, it hurts the well-being of the world's ocean. It is up to all of us, to be guardians of the environment and work towards protecting our oceans and stabilizing the sea turtle species.

I organized a beach clean-up at beach access #3 and beach access #5 at South Padre Island, Texas. SPI is located on the coastal tip of Texas. During the beach clean-up, I found what appear to be turtle bites on some of the plastic bottles. There were bottle caps buried in the sand and found in large numbers. To help sustain my project long-term, I created a fun yet informative lesson plan for a local Sea turtle protection organization website to help raise awareness on the impact of plastic pollution on sea turtles and other marine life. I also donated children's books to their learning center; I believe change can start with our younger generations. The books have colorful large pictures that show the negative impact of ocean pollution on our planet. In addition, I provided several in-person presentations. In my presentations, I used a sea turtle sargassum habitat model to show how sargassum floats by tiny air bubbles. I demonstrated how plastics and other types of trash get trapped in the sargassum. Sea turtles mistake plastic for food and end up dying of starvation due to blockages in their digestive system or die due to complications of plastic consumption and other types of garbage in the oceans.
Initially, the only goal of my project was to discuss endangered sea turtles, an issue that is very close to my heart; however, now I feel like I can do so much more. I need to help save our oceans and help make this world a better place. In the future, the yearning this project has planted in me will allow me to organize more ecological projects and lead groups of people on the change. Thanks to the experience I obtained from working on the Apprentice Ecologist project, I have discovered new strengths. Thanks to these personal findings, I will now have the leadership skills to overcome obstacles and barriers in life as well.
Date: August 11, 2019 Views: 1114 File size: 14.0kb, 80.5kb : 640 x 560
Hours Volunteered: 60
Volunteers: 4
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 13 & 11 to 48
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