Turning Recycled Trash Into Creative Toys
Each year, Clearwater Marine Aquarium hosts a “Trash to Toys” competition to celebrate Earth Day and encourage recycling. Local competing classrooms at Hillsborough and Pinellas County elementary schools designed environmental enrichment devices for the resident, rescued dolphins at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
True to our message of conservation, the toys had to be primarily made of recycled and recyclable materials found around the classroom and home (cardboard, water bottles, plastics, etc.). These EED’s are not placed in the water, but yet provide visual enrichment for the dolphins.
Watch the video to find out which recycled creation the dolphins chose as their favorite!
Beach Cleanups Make a Difference
Another great way to celebrate Earth Day is by organizing or participating in a cleanup activity.
CMA recently hosted a beach cleanup at Clearwater Beach as part of Sea Turtle Awareness Day. Over 690 participants volunteered to help remove trash and debris from the beach during the event.
Volunteers gathered trash using reusable buckets and collected a total of 1,040 pounds of garbage off the beach in just a couple hours. One group, which collected the most trash, brought in 24 pounds, including a tire! Keeping the beach clean helps reduce marine debris and protects nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings from obstacles.
Sea Turtle Nesting Season
Sea turtles lay their eggs throughout Florida beaches between March and October. In Pinellas County, sea turtle nesting season begins May 1 and ends October 31. Loggerhead sea turtles predominantly nest on the gulf coast beaches in our area. CMA’s Sea Turtle Conservation Program patrols 13 miles along the North Pinellas County coast beginning in April.
While monitoring sea turtle nests, the patrol team also looks out for obstacles and lighting problems that may disorient the newborn sea turtle hatchlings, which typically emerge at night and are guided by the moonlight to the water. Obstacles on the beach, such as sand castles, holes, beach chairs and trash can be big problems for the little hatchlings trying to find their way to the ocean. They may become stuck or entangled, and nesting sea turtle moms may have trouble finding a spot to safely lay their eggs.
Debris on the Beach
Just a few days into their patrol, the Sea Turtle Conservation Program has already discovered and removed a large amount of trash and debris.
Earth Day celebrations and organized beach cleanup events are very helpful, but we can all help protect marine life and our planet every day by recycling, properly disposing of garbage and picking up any trash we find.