Project Shield Reaches New Locations in Puerto Rico
On Sunday, Tommy and I began our journey to Lima, Peru to present the Responsible Pier Initiative and Project Shield at the 36th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation.
On our way, we stopped in Puerto Rico to install signage in two new locations. The first, a fishing pier in Old San Juan, is located in a tourism destination that attracts millions of visitors each year. Thanks to our collaborators at Puerto Rico’s Departmento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales (DRNA), the pier is now home to a Responsible Pier Initiative sign and a monofilament recycling tube.
Gladys, our partner from Black Beard Sports in Vieques, met us in San Juan and drove us to our second location, the recently opened Black Beard shop in Ceiba, a small town on the east side of the island. Along the way, she pointed out some of the coast’s most popular beaches and fishing spots and shared stories of teaching hundreds of resident high school students about the local wildlife she spends so much time studying.
Yesterday, we led a First Responder workshop for the Black Beard staff and installed signage and monofilament tubes at a sea turtle nesting beach, a kayak launch, two fishing piers, and the Black Beard storefront. The staff tour guides start each program by providing a briefing for their clients. They cover local history, animals the group may encounter, and conservation measures. The staff can now point to Project Shield signage and demonstrate methods for protecting the local marine environment, a message we hope will stay with visitors long after they leave Ceiba.
As soon as we are back in the office, we will be working with the owners of Black Beard to launch LMC educational programs at Puerto Rican schools and Boys and Girls Clubs, a program that was brought to Vieques by Gladys herself. We are so grateful for the support of our partners in Puerto Rico and their drive to serve as some of the first Project Shield ambassadors. We could not ask for more passionate, dedicated partners and look forward to all that we will accomplish this year.