Sea turtle sculpture highlights ‘Help Keep Our Waters Clean’ project [PHOTOS]


Visitors to the Alabama Grand Bay Welcome Center off I-10 will now be reminded by a 10 foot sculpture of a sea turtle to keep Alabama beautiful.

A couple of years ago, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) launched the “Help Keep Our Waters Clean” campaign to promote awareness about watersheds and reduce pollution entering waterways that drain to the Gulf of Mexico. 

Years in the Making

“This project has been years in the making, and we are extremely happy to see it move into the next phase with the sculptures,” said ADEM Director Lance LeFleur. “It is fitting that the first sculpture went up in the Mobile area, which is one of the most bio-diverse and bio-rich regions anywhere. The colorful loggerhead sea turtle sculpture at Grand Bay complements perfectly the wildlife theme of that beautiful welcome center greeting visitors to our state.”

The project is funded with a $500,000 competitive grant awarded to ADEM by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Trash Free Waters Program in late 2020. Since then, ADEM has been working with the Alabama Department of Transportation and the Alabama Tourism Department to implement the project.

In addition to the sculptures the “Help Keep Our Waters Clean” project also placed signs along interstates to inform motorists that they are entering a watershed and to encourage them not to litter. 

You may have noticed recently the new signs—48 in total—including 8 entering the state. 

321,800 Visitors


The Grand Bay Welcome Center’s loggerhead sea turtle is the first of eight sculptures to be installed at Welcome Centers across Alabama. Approximately 321,800 people visit the welcome center each year.

The 10-foot-long sea turtle sculpture is filled with plastic bottles—items that are commonly discarded and found in litter. According to EPA’s WasteWise Program, plastics can require 100 to 400 years to break down. In addition, producing new plastic from recycled material uses only two-thirds of the energy required to manufacture plastic from raw materials.

 ADEM encourages visitors to the welcome centers to take pictures with the sculptures and share them on their social media channels using the hashtags #HelpKeepOurWatersClean and #TrashFreeWaters.

“The message we want to communicate, to both travelers and state residents, is that our rivers, streams and other bodies of water are natural treasures, and we need everyone’s help to preserve them.,” concluded LeFleur.

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Pat Byington
Pat Byington
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