BLUE LAGOON ISLAND, BAHAMAS – Every piece of trash that makes its way into the ocean threatens the life of the animals that call it home and in a country with more than 3,400 km of coastline, that trash known as marine debris, also threatens the Bahamas’ livelihood.
To cultivate awareness of the importance of properly disposing of all garbage and encourage Bahamians to reduce, reuse and recycle, the Dolphin Encounters Project BEACH 19th Annual Marine Education Poster contest challenges kindergarten through grade 12 students to creatively depict the topic “Marine Debris – Trashing our Treasure.”
“With our emphasis here at Blue Lagoon Island on protecting the environment and taking care of marine animals, it’s only fitting that we use this year’s poster contest to further educate young Bahamians on the role we all play when it comes to keeping the ocean that surrounds us clear of trash,” said Te-Shalla Clarke, Education Supervisor at Blue Lagoon Island. “We are a tourist destination that relies on sun, sand and sea, so while it is critical that we keep our oceans clean so that marine animals have a safe environment to live in, doing so also ensures that we remain a place that tourists want to visit and that we as Bahamians can enjoy living in for generations to come.”
The most common types of trash that make their way into the waters surrounding the Bahamas are cigarettes, food wrappers and fast food containers, cups, lids, and straws, plastic bottles and utensils, aluminum cans, glass bottles and fishing nets. The debris is mostly a result of garbage being left behind by beachgoers and people who enjoy their lunch along the shore, however the Bahamas’ narrow islands mean that garbage not properly disposed of inland can also end up in the ocean.
Some trash – particularly plastics and fishing line – can last up to 600 years in the ocean, meaning countless mammals like dolphins and whales, as well as turtles, fish, crustaceans and even seabirds die as a result of entanglement or ingestion.
Students compete in four age group categories – kindergarten – grade 2; grade 3 – grade 5; grade 6 – grade 8 and grade 9 – grade 12. A panel of judges who are recognized for their work in the marine environment will select the top three entries in each grade category.
National Prizes for winning entries include passes to exciting activities at Blue Lagoon Island, including Swim with the Dolphins, Sea Lion Encounter, Stingray Encounter, Beach Day, Segway Safari and even the Seaventure Summer Camp. This year, to recognize the importance teachers play in educating and encouraging students on these critical topics, Dolphin Encounters Project BEACH will award the teacher of each first place student a choice of four (4) Blue Lagoon Island Beach Day Passes or two (2) adult only VIP Beach Passes.
Another exciting addition to the Marine Education Poster Contest is the chance to compete internationally for a trip to Cancun, Mexico. The original artwork of the qualifying finalists (ages 6-15) will be entered in the International Festival of the Oceans Drawing Contest hosted by Delphinus in Mexico. Winners of the international poster contest will win a free trip to Cancun
The deadline for entry is March 1 and is open to kindergarten through grade 12 students throughout the Bahamas. National Winners will be announced March 8, 2019 and hosted at an awards ceremony on Blue Lagoon Island on March 30.
Entries must be the student’s original freehand artwork and must represent this year’s theme – “Marine Debris – Trashing our Treasure”. Entries must be submitted on 11×17 sized paper and designed using only pens, pencils, coloured pencils markers, crayons, watercolours or paints. Charcoal, pastels, chalk, glitter, sand or paste-ons are NOT permitted. Stencil, tracing and computer graphics are also not permitted. Student names, ages and schools are not to be written on the artwork and instead, a completed application form must be attached to the back of the entry poster.
The 2019 Marine Education Poster Contest fact sheet and entry form can be downloaded from http://www.dolphinencounters.com/education-programs/marine-education-poster-contest/. Teachers can also call Blue Lagoon Island Education at 363-7180 extension 303; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Entry forms can also be picked-up at the Dolphin Encounters booth located at the Paradise Island Ferry Terminal.
Dolphin Encounters – Project BEACH conducts numerous educational and outreach programs; to participate in a program telephone 359-0278 or 363-7180 – ext. 303.