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Delaware Senate Democrats

Delaware To Debut Official State Sea Turtle

June 9, 2022

DOVER — Earlier this year, Senator Stephanie Hansen rolled out the Delaware State Sea Turtle Project in partnership with the Delaware Department of Education, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation (MERR) Institute.

The Delaware State Sea Turtle Project included 4 components:

  • Lesson plans specific to each grade level K-12
  • An essay contest for high schoolers
  • An art contest open to students K-12
  • An official vote for Delaware students to select the official state sea turtle

Students were encouraged to write essays defending which of the four sea turtles that visit Delaware shores — green, loggerhead, leatherback, or Kemp’s ridley — should be dubbed Delaware’s official state turtle.

After hundreds of students participated in the essay contest and nearly 13,500 students cast their vote in the statewide election, it has been decided that the loggerhead turtle will be codified into Delaware law as our state’s first official sea turtle. Senate Bill 303, sponsored by Senator Hansen, passed the Senate unanimously and heads to the House for a vote.

“The Delaware Sea Turtle Project has been such an engaging experience for hundreds of students because it sits at the intersection of environmentalism, art, and civic engagement” said Sen. Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown. “It is with great pride that we debut the loggerhead as Delaware’s official state sea turtle.”

On June 17, Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long will present a signed copy of Senate Bill 303 on the steps of Legislative Hall. Many students, local artists, and environmental advocates will be in attendance to commemorate this legislation and the award winners of the Delaware Sea Turtle Project art and essay contests.

“I am so happy and truly amazed at how much work has gone into this legislation since it was first introduced over a year ago. What began as a simple idea has become an excellent example of public participation in the legislative process and environmental stewardship,” said Rep. Debra Heffernan, D-Bellefonte. “Seeing how many students voted and participated in the contests gives me incredible confidence in our youth, the next generation and their commitment to our environment.”

Senate Bill 303 now heads to the House for consideration.