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Small school wins big for turtle conservation

If ever we needed a stark reminder about the impact of plastic pollution in our oceans, the students of Pormpuraaw State School in Far North Queensland have provided it.

They’ve crafted a confronting sculpture of a turtle made from discarded plastic and downed power lines from cyclone Nora in 2018 and it’s now taken out first place in a competition for schools.

The small school of 97 students, located 2,300 kilometres north of Brisbane, entered The Hatchery Crusaders competition to show the devastation plastic pollution has on marine loggerhead turtles.

School Principal Anne Walsh said the whole school community was incredibly proud of the Year 2 to 7 students for winning the competition with their sculpture aptly named ‘Ghost Net’. 

‘Ghost Net is a term used for commercial fishing nets illegally abandoned into the sea. They drift with the currents and continue to catch and kill fish, sea turtles, whales and many other kinds of sea life,’ said Ms Walsh.

‘It’s a problem facing many coastal towns, so to be able to use ugly pollution to make beautiful art has been a valuable lesson about our environment.’

The competition was run as part World Science Festival Brisbane with an aim of raising awareness about Queensland-based turtle research, ocean pollution and the plight of marine turtles.

BHP Foundation has been a ‘City of Science’ partner of World Science Festival since its inception.  

‘What’s so exciting about The Hatchery Crusaders is that it’s enabled these students to understand the tangible impacts of pollution on our ocean,’ said Chief Executive James Ensor.

Unfortunately, World Science Festival Brisbane 2020 was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Final artworks, including ‘Ghost Net’, can now be viewed online at or on Facebook and Instagram.

Read more about how the BHP Foundation is driving new ways of conserving and sustainably managing natural environments for the benefit of future generations.