Middle school students are launching a campaign for the protection of sea turtles


“Stop polluting our island.” This is the main message brought by students of the grade 5th 2 of Mont des Accords middle school which presented on Thursday, March 30 their campaign for the protection of sea turtles in Saint-Martin.

Under PPE (interdisciplinary hands-on-instruction), their English teacher, Lucile Maaroufi, also referent to the EDD (Education for Sustainable Development) within the school had solicited Julien Chalifour, responsible for the division of Missions and scientific monitoring of the natural reserve to accompany this project. “He had suggested to carry out an action in October for the 25 years of the protection of sea turtles but upon reflection I decided to do a work on it during the entire school year” says the teacher. This is how was born the project “Let's Protect Sea Turtles in Saint-Martin, on the Trail of the Marine Turtles".

Through their research and interventions of Julien Chalifour since October, the students have done in groups several digital posters to raise awareness of the problems encountered by these reptiles. Pollution seems to be the theme that has most caught their attention, because it threatens the survival of turtles. They thus invented several slogans such as: “the verb pollute should be combined only in the negative” or “your waste cost us life.” During their presentation, close to Easter, some asked the population to clean the beaches after the festivities.

In addition to these posters, a group performed a video street interview questioning passers-by and retailers on the seafront. To their great surprise, students have found that most respondents were answering randomly to questions they consider as obvious. “We think we know everything about the turtles but ultimately we don’t know much about them, as an example, the fact that many beaches in Saint-Martin are nesting sites” said Lucile Maaroufi before asserting that her students who were very diligent on the project are now “pretty savvy on the subject.”

If they for the most part grew up on the island, rare are the students in this class who already observed this fact. Charles Gershom, one of the student in the class confessed to have tried several times without ever succeeding. He concluded from this project that “sea turtles are very old. We need to protect them because they are fragile, beautiful and important to the sea.” Pena Franchesca Martinez, also in 5th 2 is also part of the Green brigade at her middle school: “I wanted to help them because they are likely to disappear,” she explains. And adding: “I wouldn’t have enjoyed being part of people who hunt them.” As tragically confirmed by pictures that have been circulating on the social networks a few weeks ago and which showed a turtle injured by an arrow of a harpoon at Grandes Cayes, the sea turtles, yet protected, are still hunted.

On the protection of the environment, educate children is often more effective than speaking to adults. “Generally the children are more open and will relay the message to their families” says Julien Chalifour who announced to the children that the Reserve would distribute their posters on its website and Facebook page.


Fanny Fontan