Sea turtle at Mississippi Aquarium inspires musical

November 27, 2021 GMT

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — A sea turtle at the Mississippi Aquarium has inspired a musical.

The green sea turtle Banner was the inspiration behind, “Banner: A Sea Turtle Saga,” an original children’s musical put on by theater students from Mississippi State University.

It debuted at Mississippi State earlier this month and was performed on Monday at the Mississippi Aquarium in Gulfport.

The show, written by Mississippi State Associate Professor of Communications Tonya Hays and marine scientist and Northern Gulf Institute Education and Outreach Director Jonathan Harris, tells the story of Banner and his sea-creature friends who go on an underwater adventure. The story teaches about the dangers marine animals face due to plastic pollution, oil spills and climate change.

Banner was rescued in Florida after being severely injured by a boat propeller. The green sea turtle is the world’s largest species of hard-shelled turtle. It is a threatened species in U.S. Atlantic waters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


The show featured student performers wearing puppets of various marine life designed by Mississippi coast theater veteran Tim Baker, of Gulfport. Baker, a professional sculptor, propmaker and special effects artist, has worked with Marvel Studios and Universal Orlando on multiple film projects.

“We are increasingly concerned about the influence of human activity on the Gulf’s marine ecosystems. For instance, tons of plastic waste end up in the Gulf, killing or harming sea life and changing marine ecosystems,” Harris told WLOX-TV. “We need to inform and inspire the next generation to help us conserve, protect and restore the Gulf to protect our health, quality of life, and survival.”