The Chesapeake Bay and its coastal waters are significant developmental habitats for thousands of juvenile sea turtles who use bay waters seasonally. However, each year, hundreds of turtles are found stranded on local beaches. Stranded sea turtles are any ocean turtle found floating on the ocean surface or washed up along the coastline, often deceased or severely injured. Since all species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered, identifying the sources of mortality and causes of these stranding events are crucial to the conservation and recovery of sea turtles populations. Furthermore, as most sea turtle mortality likely goes unobserved due to low likelihood of landfall and carcass decomposition, these stranding events provide a unique opportunity for investigating causes of sea turtle mortality. The high number of stranding events that occur in the Bay are of concern especially as the cause of mortality is largely unidentified. For my research, I am developing an oceanographic drift model for the Chesapeake Bay simulating the drift patterns of turtle carcasses after death and upon washing up at stranding locations. This model will be used to identify likely mortality hotspots in the bay and will be associated with indicators of possible anthropogenic or environmental causes.
For my project, I aim to develop an infographic about local sea turtle stranding events that can be disseminated to the general public. I am regularly surprised by the vast quantity of the local community whom do not even know that sea turtles exist in the bay, let alone that turtles are dying in these waters in such large quantities. Thus, I foremost wish to use my infographic to generally inform the public of this stranding issue at large. I hope to make the information on this product broad enough and easy to read for a general public audience, including the local community and any other interested personnel. It will be a general tool I hope that I can utilize in the future to hand out at a variety of outreach programs I may be involved with (ie. Marine Science Day, presentations, seminars, my GK12 classroom, etc.).
I would also like to create a second infographic that explores my project goals and methods specifically. A central component of my research is computer modeling and simulations – a concept that can be very difficult for others to grasp. Therefore, I hope to find a simple way to describe the different parts of my project. I hope for this infographic to focus around a graphic/image that I create explaining my methods which can be then adopted as needed in the future (see sketch below). Depending on product design and space, I may also create a third infographic that highlight general threats to sea turtles and ways the public can help mitigate these threats (or, this might end up being on the first infographic if appropriate).
Ideally, I imagine these infographics as several separate products in the form of flyers, but, I would like them to be adaptable to enlarging into a poster if needed in the future. I have identified a variety of websites that provide free infographic templates that I can adapt in my own design, such as www.venngage.com or www.piktochart.com. These flyers will be useful in that they will inform the public of not only the issue of sea turtle strandings in the Chesapeake Bay, but allow the public to also pick up a second flier specifically about my project/research efforts to combat this problem if they are further interested. I hope that these products can complement each other to paint a fuller picture, while also stand-alone as separate products.