2017 contest winners
middle school

Congratulations to our winners!

Click through the tabs to see all of the winners in each category. You can see, read, and watch their work, as well as read their reflections on the project.

share the art:

Victor Li

Age 14
Saratoga, CA

“What If?”

Cara Fritz

Age 14
Concord, MA

Adam Folk

Age 13
Philadelphia, PA

 

Yahoo! It’s time to celebrate our winners and all of our students who participated in the 2017 Ocean Awareness Student Contest.

You all contributed to the largest student ocean advocacy arts collection around the world! You are a part of a wave of activism, and people are taking notice.

From Malaysia to Kansas, we received nearly 3,000 entries this year. While the Contest honors some talented winners, it is all of you together that are building a wave of awareness and empathy for our oceans by informing, inspiring, and engaging others to take action!

As part of Bow Seat’s growing network, every one of you is a cultural changemaker. Together you are creating and amplifying a global voice of advocacy that is hard to ignore. Thank you so much for participating. You are the future!

- Linda Cabot, Founder of Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs

sponsor recognition awards

Bow Seat presents $750 Sponsor Recognition Awards to caring adults who are nominated by Contest participants as individuals who help to change students’ lives and the world for the better.

Mitchell Comiskey

Science Teacher
Forest Glen Middle School
Coral Springs, FL

Vals Liu

Art Teacher
VSA Art + Design Studio Vancouver, BC, Canada

Gold

Award

$1,000

Victor Li

Age 14
Saratoga, CA
reflection >

Here in California, Proposition 67, a ballot proposition that would ban stores from giving out single use plastic and paper bags and instead force them to charge customers for one, was passed. The effectiveness of this measure has been shown by statistics on the city of San Jose. According to Scientific American, a study revealed that plastic litter was reduced by 89% in the storm drains, 60% in the creeks, and 59% in the streets and neighborhoods, and use of reusable bags in the city had gone up 16-fold. Proof of how plastic sanctions work is also evident internationally. In Ireland, where a plastic bag tax was passed in 2002, plastic bag use went down by 94%. Driven away by the fee that came with the convenience of a plastic bag, people stopped using them, and this directly led to less plastic in the area, and ultimately the environment, around them.

My art explores the struggle between nature and plastic that is plaguing the oceans, and the solution that may help solve it. Up to 90% of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs, and they, along with all the sea creatures that are dying from it, are represented in the piece by an albatross, who are especially prone to eating plastic. The bird is flying towards a clean ocean, but is trapped by plastic in the form of bags and bottle caps. With a stomach filled with it, the animal lingers between life and death. Yet money, alluding to plastic tax, is slowly, yet surely, saving it, by turning the plastic into food, and the bones into flesh and feather, acting out the positive effect that plastic levies can have on oceans and their residents.

As a metaphor for using my proposed method of plastic taxes, which can be implemented on other forms of plastic such as utensils and water bottles to save our oceans, my art is expressing a concept that I want people to consider as a realistic way to help get rid of plastic pollution.

Fang YunHua Art Studio

$750 Award

Silver

Awards

$750

Becky Kim

Age 14
Los Angeles, CA
reflection >

Our ocean is facing a huge challenge right now, with all the oil leakage from factories all over the world, and all the trash that billions of people threw away. Most people do not know about the seriousness of our ocean dying as time goes by. If we do not come up with the proper solution, our sea is going to rot away and we are going to face huge consequences. For our future, a solution for polluted waters and ocean trash would be having a machine that cleans out the ocean all the time. These machines would filter out all the oil leakage in the water, and pick up all the plastic trash that is threatening the fish. If we start now, the change we can do to the ocean would be tremendous. We are doing this for future generations.

Sergiy Rudik

Age 14
Novovolunsk, Ukraine
reflection >

Sea and costal pollution is the main problem of the world ocean. Lots of marine creatures are dying and this rate is increasing on daily basis. At the World Economic Forum, representatives have claimed that according to their calculations plastic garbage will exceed the number of fish in the sea by 2050. So, I have decided to take part in this competition and help to deal with the problem concerning ocean pollution.

Moreover, I am very inspired by the topic of this project and realize all the responsibilities that will lie on me during this participation. I also understand the importance of this project as long as it is aimed at helping our planet to be healthy.

Bronze
Awards

$250

Aleesha Haq

Age 13
Singapore
reflection >

The human attack on the environment keeps me awake at night. I find it distasteful that we do not seem to care about how we discard our waste and let it affect the marine environment. Our lazy or humanly expedient ways has led to litter in the seas and it has a devastating effect on marine life. The waste that are collected in the waters lead to some marine animals eating material they cannot digest, get poisoned or contaminated by the overwhelming pollution. These sea animals just can’t seem to fight back the relentless assault of waste. This prompted me to raise the level of awareness of the harm we are causing to these sea creatures. I hope the people I know or interact with can pass the message eventually to the real culprits out there to abstain from their neglectful ways.

This art piece simple messages that our neglectful ways cause damage to innocent animals. We do not see it and that is why I drew waste and trash within the shape of the sea creature to show that it has become second nature to us humans. The wastes are coloured in black and white format to make it stand out but send the meaning that it does not fit the sea creature. It is a signal to us humans to make things right.

Save Gaia and Stop the War.

Soobin Sung

Age 13
Ilsan, South Korea
reflection >

As a young student, I strongly desire that people to understand the extreme level of marine pollution, which will be affecting me and countless other children mercilessly in the close future. In order to demonstrate and deliver this message, I chose an ink painting that only consists of different shades of black, other than shades of beautiful deep blue or emerald. This represents the contaminated ocean water and decaying ecosystems. Additionally, I added a face as the background to my art work. I aimed for the goal that different people may interpret it in different ways. For instance, one could say the face symbolises the shameless people that are responsible for the abuse towards the ocean. Others could say it represents Mother Nature that is losing its pride from being awfully anemic and rancid. Lastly, the ink that has escaped from the outline of the face illustrates the fact that marine pollution is and will significantly affect other natural habitats and ecosystems other than simply the ocean.

JieJie Yuan

Age 14
New York, New York

Pearl Awards

$150

Sherry Chen

Age 12
Vancouver, Canada
reflection >

The chance of oil spills increases as people use cruises more. Oil spills can really damage the ocean and also significantly damage sea creatures’ natural habitat. People try to fix them with many different ways such as burning, collecting and gelling oil and so on. However, oil spills will not be completely fixed. Many sea creatures die due to oil spills. Oil wrap around sea birds’ wings and they soon lose their body temperature. Imagine if the sea creatures were doing this to humans. Getting wrapped up by oil and dying.

In this artwork, I present humans building fancy modern buildings, which damages the ocean. Oil inside the ocean grabs the sea creatures as they try to escape. The corals were damaged. Sea creatures want a nice home. No pollution and a better environment must be achieved.

Rachel Kim

Age 14
Montgomery, AL

Distinguished
Honorable
Mention

$100

Kayla Jang

Age 12
Los Angeles, CA
reflection >

My artwork represents the ocean being polluted with objects that we people throw away into the waters. This causes many problems like killing our food source or screwing up the environment for other creatures. The most thing that hurts the environment are oil spills. The oil spills are created by us and is already hard enough to clean it. It spreads in a massive area and takes years to clean up. During those times, fish are dying and the water sources are getting polluted. The fish in my piece have the look of sorrow in their face. All the fish on the ground are dead shown by the fish skeleton heads. Right now, I see that the crisis of the ocean is going to become the crisis of our future if we don’t try to stop this uncontrollable pollution to the ocean.

William Kim

Age 12
Santa Clara, CA
reflection >

Oil pollution. Debris. Acidification. These are all aspects of ocean pollution, and are all big problems for marine life, but there’s one thing that’s forgotten. When we think of ocean pollution, we think about oil spills, sewage, debris, but not invasive species. Invasive species are animals or plants that are carried by man to a place they should not be. They are a growing problem for the marine ecosystem, but are constantly ignored and unmentioned, and many of us may have added to the problem. One example of an invasive species is the lionfish. The lionfish, an aggressive fish that is natively found in the Indo-Pacific region, is now causing a huge problem by devouring all the prey fish in the Caribbean Sea and in the East Coast of the U.S.

The lionfish in my drawing is depicted throwing up fish bones and other things like trash and mammal bones. The bones show how much fish are being eaten, and the size of the lionfish depicts how many of them are in the ocean. I also added a bit of trash to depict marine debris, and a few bones of bigger animals to exaggerate the scene. I hope that my drawing will inspire people to act on invasive species.

Kate Lee

Age 13
Oakland, CA
reflection >

As we know, the Earth is being heavily polluted every day. With all this waste in the ocean, sea and land animals will be affected and eventually endanger them. My art piece depicts two sides of the effect of waste: one part where we humans produce waste and the other where the innocent animals are affected due to our polluting actions. I included birds and a turtle to show a few of the many animals that are endangered by our waste. The trash and the cans in my picture depict the pollution that exists in the sea, which crucially imperils turtles who get caught in fishing nets, and to certain extent, consume our waste. I purposely used different colors for the air to signify the deterioration of our air quality. I made it so that the birds in my painting are in terror and are in search of fresher, cleaner air, which naturally does not exist in our environment anymore due to our arrogant needs. I want people to see my artwork and understand the damage that we are continuously producing. Although we may not notice the difference, the plants, animals, and everything around do.

 

Michelle Li & Brandy Zhang

Age 12
Vancouver, Canada
reflection >

Did you know that by 2050, the ocean will contain more plastic in it than fish? The ocean may be enduring for now, but if people continue what they’re doing now, we may not even be able to find a bit of pure and clean ocean water. We can't control the habits of others, but we surely can control ourselves, and how we affect our ocean community.

The garbage in our art piece is what we are currently doing to our ocean. The whale has become a cut-out, because it embraces the idea that it has gone to a better place; replaced by a photo, we can see the correct action we should take in this type of situation. If we continue to act as we have, our entire environment will be ruined and polluted so horribly. It will be so unbearable, so intolerable, that all the good memories would be forgotten by mankind before we know it.

Fiona Luo

Age 13
Cupertino, CA
reflection >


During a recent school field trip to San Francisco, a sudden gust of wind blew my friend’s Ziploc bag away, in the direction of the ocean. When I pointed this out, my classmate replied: “Pollution is such a big problem that one plastic bag won’t make a difference.” Having a negative outlook towards pollution, I decided, will not help us at all. In order to make progress in any task, we must first adopt a positive outlook.

My artwork, created with color pencil, expresses the relationship between optimism and result. The people in the center, whose heads are full of clean water and living fish, represent those who view our ocean’s future positively. Those who have a positive outlook of our future ocean, whose heads are filledwith beliefs that the ocean can improve, consequently endeavor to tidy and clean the beach, as can be seen with the cleaning supplies they hold. Their actions, which are fueled by hope, then impact their environment directly. This can be seen in the unpolluted ocean in the background.

However, those on the left and right sides, whose heads are filled with negative opinions about the future ocean, do not take action, and as a result, their environment deteriorates.

I believe the future of our oceans is in our hands. I hope that through my artwork, I will help my audience realize that our future ocean can still improve, and that each individual’s perspective will make a big difference.

Irene Oh

Age 13
Danville, CA
reflection >


Approximately 1.4 billion pounds of trash is added every year to our ocean. If this continues, piles of trash will replace our continents and gallons of oil will replace our sea.

I try to explain the effect of ocean pollution through my artwork. My artwork consists of blue and gray tones. Mostly it's blue to represent the ocean color. The gray color represents the dullness the sea creatures show. My artwork is focused on a peculiar mermaid. She represents the safe part of the ocean where the fish live because she is here to protect the sea creatures. The marine mermaid embraces a giant turtle. Holding it with her hands symbolically, represents hope and our humanity to protect the marine life. There are other creatures affected by the pollution too. However, the mermaid is affected the most because all she can do is to promise to protect her friends from the trash damaging her home.

Ocean pollution is still a big problem today. We can make a huge difference if we spread the news, help clean up the piles, and not litter. Even though the amount of trash seems endless, even cleaning up one piece of trash can still make a big difference. The word “ocean” defines “a very large expanse of sea” not a very large expanse of trash. We started this and we have the responsibility to end it. We are connected to the ocean. If the ocean turns into trash we will too.

Ari Su

Age 14
Boyds, MD
reflection >

Once, in the Boston harbor, I went whale watching, sailing so far out that the bustling city line drowned into the water. I remember seeing, as the boat rocked back and forth, the fins of playful dolphins and the humps of whales. And I can recall pondering if, by the finale of my life, I could see such creatures again. The thought that I could not crushed my childish wonder.

With the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from human production, the dissolution of CO2 in the ocean, a massive carbon sink, raises the pH of the water, causing the bleaching of vibrant corals, the demise of marine wildlife, and the disruption of complex migratory patterns. The phenomenon we call acidification, an invisible plague, is seeping through the cracks.

It is crucial that we realize that the ocean is a key component of the world; harm to the world is harm to the ocean and harm to the ocean is harm to the world. Ingenuity took us into age of climate change and only ingenuity will take us out. Now, with the possibility of cheaper, efficient, renewable energies, such as solar, wind, and fusion, we can diminish the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and reduce global warming and acidification. When our world has warmed, when our oceans have acidified, we search together, unyielding, over despair, with only the innovation and compassion of humanity as our deep hope.

Honorable
Mention

$100

Bianca Gegea

Age 14
Constanta, Romania
reflection >

Middle of the ocean. Excessive oil. Radioactive waste. Excessive plastic and small pieces of plastic. Year 2027. This is the reality that we face daily. People have started the cleaning process. The people's turn has changed when every person took care of the waste he was throwing before he invaded where he was going. Then, with so much plastic, they quickly set up businesses that cut small pieces and reuse it. Again and again. So not only has it taken an unexpected turn, but they all wanted to use biodegradable products. People have felt the need for cleanliness and have forgotten about this evil. At the top they cleaned the beaches, from the jungle to the North Pole. Everywhere needs to be clean. The bag represents the years of excessive pollution suffered by the sea and the oceans. The arms hold the hope: the species that are now protected. They are trying to get used to changing and accommodating themselves in the new environment now being cleansed. My work is rather symbolic. If we do not stop now from being selfish and destroying the biodiversity of the wonderful oceans, we will all suffer. At least, we hope that each of us will manage to head to protect the environment and the oceans.

Rachel Jiang

Age 14
Cupertino, CA
reflection >

My artwork is about how nuclear waste or nuclear power plants are polluting the ocean. The reason why I didn’t make the underwater ocean dirty is because when people see the ocean, they only see the outside image and they believe everything is alright even though nuclear power plants are harming our world little by little. Thus, I drew a dolphin slowly turning into waste, but because a human cared about these poor animals, she showed her affection towards this subject and slowly turned the dolphin back to normal. If you look closely, the nuclear power plant is actually a nose that is sucking in the black liquid. This resembles how we as humans might not know it, but the dangerous pollution emitted from the nuclear waste is also going to our nose. We need to be aware for the ocean and for our human health.

Irene Raeeun Kim

Age 12
Palo Alto, CA
reflection >

On August 3, 1979 during a tropical storm in the Caribbean, the SS Atlantic Empress, a Greek oil tanker, collided with the Aegean Captain, releasing approximately 287,000 tons of oil into the Caribbean Sea. It is the biggest oil spill caused by a tanker to this day. Although much attention from this event was taken away by the massive Ixtoc I oil spill, the oil from the Atlantic Empress affected marine life greatly.

My artwork represents human ignorance and shows how our mistakes can negatively affect the environment. The fireworks and flashy lights represent how we are sitting around going on vacations and enjoying our life ignoring all the bad around us. As we are ignoring these problems, more ocean spills are happening and more debris is being swept into the oceans. The ships are luxurious cruise ships showing how we are able to sail the same polluted waters on fancy boats. Under the surface, the boats are shown leaking massive amounts of oil into the ocean and plastic can be found at the bottom of the sea. Our ignorance on these problems is what prevents us from preventing the ocean pollution. My hope is that this artwork will be able to bring attention to oil spills and ocean debris. Since we are the ones that caused this problem, we have to be the ones to fix it. If we all face the problem, I believe that we can fix it.

Carol Liang

Age 12
Vancouver, Canada
reflection >

Since the year 1800, there has been more and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere each year. Carbon dioxide has been mostly caused by human activities like burning fossil fuels. And when some of the carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere dissolves into water, it can cause ocean acidification. Because of acidification, shells and corals corrode and break, which can cause the deaths of lots of fish because it’s their food and habitat.

These events are what inspired me to create my drawing “Reflection of The Time”. Half of the side of the hourglass is good and clean and the other half side is bad and dirty. Each side was also divided into ocean and earth. This is because ocean acidification happens in the ocean, but releasing carbon dioxide happens on earth and that is why the ocean and earth are both shown on each side. This drawing shows how we wish the world is and how the world might change to be years later.

Cynthia Liu

Age 14
Ann Arbor, MI
reflection >

Ocean pollution is a terrible thing. It makes me feel very disgusted and guilty. One of the worst ones is marine debris and plastic pollution, because this a form of pollution that is very directly connected to human carelessness, and a form of pollution that if we tried, could be solved. According to the National Academy of Sciences, in 1975, we dumped about 14 billion pounds of garbage into the ocean. Also, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, up to 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die each year from eating plastic. Seeing all of the pictures of turtles that grow around plastic and the seas of dead fish, really makes me feel like I should be doing something to help. I really hope to spread the word about ocean pollution even more using my artwork. In my artwork, I drew an aquarium, which represents the ocean, and the many problems within because of pollution. There’s a girl on the side who is grieving for the animals killed by human neglect. There are two hands by the top that are trying help by cleaning out the trash. I hope by using my artwork, I can help the ocean become cleaner and better for all the marine life.

Oksana Muzychenko

Age 14
Uman, Ukraine
reflection >

Here in Ukraine, in biology classes, on TV, everywhere we hear a lot about ocean pollution. Yet, we got used to hearing about this problem so much that we do not really notice it. It seems like if it is somewhere far away and that it will solve itself.  It has to be said, that in my dear country this problem is really urgent. People throw huge piles of litter everywhere and in water as well. My father says that it is because we do not have any working penalty charges. But I think that is not the lack of penalty, but the lack of awareness. It is worth saying that my parents care about it more than lots of other people. That is why, when we rest somewhere on the river banks, my family and I always take bags to clean the place after other people. We leave it cleaner than it was before us. This is a small step, but if everyone would do that, ocean would become a lot cleaner. As it is said, “Think globally, act locally”. Yet in all honesty, I use a lot of water everyday relentlessly and rarely think about its pollution or economy, when I am at home. This contest is the chance for me to start acting more consciously. One of my small achievements is that now I almost never use plastic bags and carry everything in my cloth bag. I also carry a reusable water bottle with me. I hope that there will be more changes in my life.

I was inspired by Botticelli, his painting “Birth of Venus”. It is clean and magnificent, yet in my work I was trying to show a lot of rubbish that is spoiling it, as well as it spoils our planet.

Minki Shin

Age 13
Studio City, CA
reflection >

As I started to draw this, I thought about all the waste that is going into our nation’s landfills, and into the ocean. Every year, people waste and litter anything they want into the drains or just on the streets. The amount of harm they are doing to the environment is not humane. All of this trash will go down into the drains, and into the ocean. This is not only hurting the marine or land animals, but also hurting ourselves too. By littering, it is polluting the environment and even making trash piles in the ocean, land, and even space. Yes, Space Debris is when some of our trash and waste gets into space. That’s why I want to show people, the harm they are causing if they just go around, littering on the streets or anywhere they like.

Notable
Submission

$50

Daria Chioibas

Age 14
Bucharest, Romania
reflection >

Through my artwork, I have tried to give people a cry of help for the benefit of our planet. Because of the pollution of the oceans, the whole population suffers both now and in the future. I drew some portraits of children standing alongside a lot of people, each of them having a sad expression, wishing to emphasize the idea that, as we have received from our ancestors a clean planet, so should the children, our future, receive it and give it to the following generations. In addition, the hands of the people pointing to the Earth suggest their aspiration towards an ideal, unpolluted planet. Each creature deserves to live its life as it should, and not as it does because of the negligence of the people.

Hana Choi

Age 13
Los Angeles, CA
reflection >

I believe our ocean needs help and it is our responsibility to clean up the mess that we’ve created. I decided to put camera filter in the middle of art piece and painted all the actions that we could take to make a clean ocean. Outside of the camera filter would the reality we are facing with ocean trash, and the main circle part of the art piece would be the clean ocean after all the solutions we take. Let’s save the ocean.

Brian Kim

Age 14
Rochester Hills, MI
reflection >

Living in the pure and clean environment of Michigan has always been seen as a benefit to many. The Great Lakes provide more than adequate fresh water for locals and citizens around the nation. Flint, Michigan was one of the cities that profited from these lakes; however, Flint decided to change water sources which eventually led to the Flint Water Crisis. Thousands were affected by this contamination. Residents had to boil the water, so that they could drink it without being afflicted by the undrinkable water. I currently live 42 minutes away from Flint which makes this a local concern. When hearing about this contest, I knew that I had to convey a crystal clear water drop splashing down from a faucet. I printed out pictures of trash and debris on a brown piece of paper. I then ripped pieces and turned them into dirty water signifying the contaminated water. When the clean water hits the contaminated water, it makes everything pure once again. This picture conveys the future that I hope Flint will have. Through my findings and enthusiasm for a better tomorrow, I wish a bright path for Flint. The Flint Water Crisis was a huge impact in my life because of its location and significance it had on the residents of Michigan. With all this said, I hope you view my work as an inspirational and hopeful piece.

Jennifer Kim

Age 13
Irvine, CA
reflection >

Through my research of ocean pollution for my art, I was shocked by the sheer number of trash thrown away into the sea, as well as the thousands of dead fish from oil spills in the ocean. The pollution is symbolized by a sick-looking fish with a soda can body, to represent “sashimi” on the plate that the food we eat ends up on. Around it are garnishes for the “sashimi” which are trash, such as cigarette butts, plastic water bottles, and so on. The “soy sauce” is made of petroleum, and there are “lemon” garnishes of old tires. I used acrylic paint to emphasize the fish along with several other “garnishes” on watercolor. Around the plate are old articles concerning pollution. I named this piece “Trashimi” to reflect on the items from the sea that we will eventually consume, but also as “Trashme” because the trash that we humans throw away just come back to us in a cycle.

Ocean pollution is no light matter, and if we do not take action to stop this, our generation as well as future ones will suffer ailments from polluted food. I hope my artwork will awaken interest in this crucial matter, and inspire people to reflect on their actions.

Ashley Park

Age 12
Wyckoff, NJ
reflection >

From the moment I saw the image of a sea turtle’s body being strangled by a plastic ring and sculpted into separated parts, I knew that the crime of polluting the ocean had come unacceptably far. Over the years, humans have shown enormous disrespect to the environment. Although it will not be an easy task to change the mindsets of everyone, all people need to understand the importance of preserving and protecting the environment, especially the oceans.

Realistically, an artwork cannot magically make the ocean free of all the pollutants. However, what an artwork can do is to express a powerful message that cannot be fully captured through words. From left to right, my art shows the gradual change of the ocean. Marine life is dying off and pollution is growing as the water is becoming poisonous, as shown through the alteration of the ocean color. The stream of fish meets with the flow of garbage becoming one in the ocean. My piece is not only limited to animals found under water. The purpose of including the cheetah was to demonstrate that ocean pollution has grave effects outside of the water as well. Overall, developing this piece of art has been a learning experience that has furthered my understanding of pollution and expanded by appreciation for the ocean.

Daven Sohng

Age 13
Las Vegas, NV
reflection >

Through everything that I have done completing this art project, I learned that ocean pollution gives me the feeling of loss and forgetfulness. This is because even though there is growing awareness about ocean pollution, many people seem to forget how it even came to be. Because of our own ignorance of the ocean, many lives have to suffer, and some people cannot even appreciate what the ocean is. In my submission, you see what pollution has done to the landscape, and what was a beach is now a landfill. Despite what is happening, you can see a child's aspiration for a clean ocean through a window. The sketches he drew, and the postcard he even taped over the polluted landscape shows how much he cares for the ocean. And through what you see over the drawings, is the child, ready to make his dreams come true. To create this I used colored pencils, gloss for the window, and even real things like tape to provide depth.

Daria Surkova

Age 13
Kyiv, Ukraine



Jennifer Zhao

Age 13
Syosset, NY
reflection >

Many people believe that ocean pollution is not a serious cause yet, but in 2010, it was calculated that every year, there are about eight million tons of plastic and trash dumped into the oceans worldwide.

My drawing depicts a situation that is happening very often. Sea creatures become tangled in rope, plastic bags, and other waste that continues to pollute their habitats. The larger seal, shown in the picture, which is trapped in garbage, represents the parent of the smaller seal, who cautiously approaches the parent.

This seal species is known as a ringed seal. Climate change is becoming a threat to their lives, melting their icy homes in the Arctic. This is caused by global warming and pollution in the air that raises many gas levels in the atmosphere of the earth such as carbon dioxide, trapping in the heat and raising temperature levels. In my artwork, a scuba diver is seen, helping the seal and comforting it. This is an important part because it shows that there is still hope in saving marine life. By working as a group, the whole world can contribute to helping our polluted oceans regain its clear waters.

MAKING WAVES ADVOCACY AWARD

$250

Group: Enviro Club

Isabel Arenas
Amara Martinez
Victor Godoy
Exivany Ramirez
Vanessa Garcia Torres

Age 13
Oxnard, CA
reflection >


We were inspired to create an image of Quetzalcoatl, the Mesoamerican serpent God. Our school has been discarding approximately 500 polystyrene trays and spork packages with straws in addition to hundreds of chips bags per day. These plastic pollutants either end up in the landfill or on the school’s field, where the mower turns them into plastic shrapnel. The wind blows it out onto the street, into the storm drain and ultimately directly into the ocean, which is only 3 miles away. The image of Quetzalcoatl spoke to us because he is revered as the God of intelligence, creation, self-reflection, and the giver of life. Since our school community is predominately Hispanic it is able to relate culturally. We created our image of Quetzalcoatl out of approximately one day’s worth of the school’s discarded plastic trash. The plastic Quetzalcoatl was displayed during our Zero Waste Week campaign with a prominent poster asking for self-reflection about how each of us can contribute to the stop of plastic pollution. During the campaign we collected over 500 signatures urging the school board to adopt policies to end the use of polystyrene trays and spork packages and to replace these items with reusable options. Our awareness campaign culminated in a meeting with the school district’s director of child nutrition services and a presentation to the school board. During both meetings the plastic Quetzalcoatl was the center piece on top of the discussion table all parties were seated around.

The Making Waves Advocacy Award honors the submission that best demonstrates a powerful, engaging, and original voice of ocean activism.

ATLANTIC
WHITE SHARK CONSERVANCY AWARD

$125

Daria Surkova

Age 13
Kyiv, Ukraine



The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Award is presented to a middle school student who effectively combines the contest theme and the vision of the Conservancy, which is to increase knowledge of Atlantic white sharks and change public perception to conserve the species and ensure biologically diverse marine ecosystems.

Gold

Award

$1,000

Kayla Yup

Age 14
Owings Mills, MD

Parkville Middle School and Center of Technology

$750 Award

“What Your Mama Didn't See”

Silver

AwardS

$750

Anna Behuniak

Age 13
Portland, ME

“Perspectives”

 

Ainsley Cunningham

Age 13
Chappaqua, NY

“What We Refuse to See”

Bronze

Award

$250

Fiona Fisher

Age 14
Redmond, WA

“The Noise”

 

Distinguished Honorable
Mention

$100

“One Last Breath”

Anya Ambarish

Age 12
Sterling, VA

“The Landfill For Life”

Jinhyoung Bang

Age 12
Minnetonka, MN

Honorable
Mention

$100

“Dear Ocean”

Elizabeth Goodrich

Age 13
East Waterboro, ME

“The Debris”

Michael Jee

Age 14
Taguig, Philippines

“Silent Voices”

Amelia Plant & Olivia Rand

Age 13
Hampden, ME

“17 Lives”

Ella Skaggs

Age 11
New York, NY

Notable
Submission

$50

“The Ocean Odyssey”

Michelle Chen

Age 13
Danville, CA

“And the Ocean Wonders, Too”

Lily Wang

Age 13
Highland Park, NJ

Gold

Award

$1,000

Cara Fritz

Age 14
Concord, MA

Nashoba Brooks School

$750 Award

“What If?”

SILVER

AwardS

$750

Adrianne Baik

Age 12
Hillsborough, CA

“The Dark Side of Paradise”

Milan Chander

Age 11
Davis, CA

“Keepers of
the Ocean”

Bronze

Award

$250

Honorable
Mention

$100

“A Plastic World”

Jang Choe

Age 13
Henderson, NV

“The Pacific Ocean - The World's Largest Landfill”

Lila Gaudrault

Age 14
Cape Elizabeth, ME

“Oceans of Gratitude”

Andrew M.

Age 12
Moraga, CA

“Children of Truth”

Audrey Moehring

Age 14
Fort Collins, CO

“The Battlefield Beneath”

Kayla Yup

Age 14
Owings Mills, MD

Silver

Award

$750

Adam Folk

Age 13
Philadelphia, PA
reflection >

I’ve created this short film to raise awareness, not just for oOcean pollution, but for all the other ways plastic water bottles pollute the world. Many people don’t realize how much damage plastic bottles are inflicting on the world. My video helps show and explain the different ways plastic bottles are causing the Earth harm. I wanted to make something special for this video, so I made short entertaining animation to get the message across. It took a lot of work to make. It took an hour or two to draw the frames and many hours of editing to make the video come together properly. It was all worth it in the end when I got see my finished product. Thank you for reading and for watching my film.

Bronze

Award

$250

Gitanjali Rao

Age 11
Brentwood, TN
reflection >

Imagine a life where a helpless parent finds her children getting hurt every day, due to ignorance. I tried to express this frustration in my video on ocean pollution, where “Ocean” is the parent, and everything that lives in it, its children. My video tries to convey an urgent appeal to take action and protect our oceans. I was inspired by the idea of a personal message of help, and used the Ocean’s own voice and viewpoint.

We depend on the ocean for food, water, climate and to manage the fragile ecosystem of our planet. From research, I learned that by 2050, there would be more plastic in the ocean than fish. I realized that I have more questions than answers, and that I can make a small difference by asking these questions and prompting viewers to think. Why would we want our children to live in a future where they cannot enjoy nature? Why would we leave them a contaminated ocean whose future is bleak? We need to do more. I hope my video influences the audience by urging them to walk in the ocean’s shoes, understand its pain, and take action, today.

My video also sows a seed of a possible solution, using technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) to predict behaviors and learn from mistakes. We can use AI to learn about past actions of humans, spread of pollutants, and come up with a plan that builds on what works and discards ineffective methods. I am hopeful.

DISTINGUISEHD
Honorable
Mention

$100

Amira Labazanova,
Alexandra Morankova,
Polina Sotnikova

Age 15
Moscow, Russia
reflection >

We think that the noise pollution problem is one of the most important issues for our planet.

We’ve found a lot of information about ocean pollution during our work on the project. Now we’re even more worried about this issue. Thousands of cetaceans die because of human apathy. Seems like this problem is not a big deal for the great majority of people. Certainly we're not indifferent and we’ve decided to talk about it. One of the most disappointing symptoms of this problem is that even though scientists offer some convenient and usable methods to reduce effect, nobody wants to react to it. We still think the humanity must be able to solve problems it has caused. Observations show that there are a lot of concerned people in our school, city or country.

Our generation wants to live on the healthy planet. That's why we’ve made this project. First and foremost, we want our government to notice the real problems and try to help the environment. Nobody can ignore the fact that the only chance to do something is working together. Taking into consideration all the above mentioned we hope that people who are interested in solving this global problem will get this message and join us in searching for solutions.

Honorable
Mention

$100

Aleksandra Buznitska

Age 14
Kiev, Ukraine
reflection >

Even if Ukraine does not connect to the ocean, it has the sea, which is suffering because of the pollution of the industries, factories, etc. I am glad that I have a chance to tell people to care about the ocean and show them that even the small actions can make the situation with the ocean better or worse.

Matilde Iemma

Age 13
Rome, Italy
reflection >

Ocean pollution is a major problem today. We have constantly put it aside, ignoring its existence. And because of that, now we face a bigger and worse problem than before. But we must act, before it's too late. Personally, I am very tied to nature and I feel it is our duty to stand up and fight for it. Obviously, as a student, I cannot stop pollution; I cannot stand there and make a decision to ensure its elimination. I can, however, spread awareness throughout my community, change the way other people and myself think and act. And possibly, that is the best, strongest way forward.

Michael Sharashenidze

Age 13
Harrisburg, PA
reflection >

I regularly go to the Florida coast to visit my grandparents. It seems like each time I go to the beach there are more plastic bottles on the shoreline and more plastic bags flying around in the wind. When I see this waste it triggers an emotional battle within me: do I pick up the trash or leave it? Even though I feel guilty, my lazy side generally wins and I ignore the bottles and bags littering the beach. However, the times when I do stop to properly dispose of the refuse fill me with pride. It makes me think that I am doing my part to change the world around me. I elected to make a documentary movie so that I can show people how even small actions can have a large impact on the earth’s oceans. Additionally, the film format gave me a good way to show ways in which people are working to solve the enormous problem of plastics and microplastic in our water. These five minutes have the ability to make someone stop and consider the harm they may be causing when they do not recycle, and dump their trash on the beach.

Kayla Yup

Age 14
Owings Mills, MD
reflection >

In films, you are capturing the viewer through music, pictures, narration, etc.; I wanted to combine these things to create an informative video that thoroughly explained and inspired change. I know that viewers must understand the problem before they are truly able to care or make a change. When watching my video, viewers are presented with the tools they need to not only change themselves, but others around them. They learn about how they are directly causing ocean acidification, as well as how easy it is to lessen their negative contributions. If viewers learn only one thing from this video, I hope it is that they have the ability and chance to make a difference. They can help the ocean because they need to help the ocean. During the process of creating this film, I did hours of research, learning things that surprised and horrified me. Prior to this, I had no idea what ocean acidification was, or why I should care. However, after learning that a dead ocean could be only decades away, I realized that not only do I need to change, but we all need to change. This issue hits me hard because I live in Maryland, where the fishing industry is crucial to our economy. What would happen if blue crabs had a mass die-off? We started this disaster, and we can stop it. Do your part in helping to stop ocean acidification!

Group

Cosmo Ansaldi
David Ansaldi
Zachary Coulson
David Giovanni
Eamon Kenney

Age 13
Weymouth, MA
reflection >

Picture your dream location and ask, “Why do you want to visit this place?” Is it because of the beautiful ocean landscape right outside your hotel room, or is it the beauty and majesty of the mountains? Now picture this place layered in trash, marine life covered and dying in oil, or your scenic mountain view interrupted by a starving bald eagle that is starving because we destroyed its natural habitat. Would you still want to visit this place? Probably not.

You would most likely wonder why your dream vacation looks like an apocalyptic scene, a natural place of wonder that has been terrorized and eradicated by something.  Our hunger for convenience and our desire for the new and latest gadgets is that something. We have become terrorists to our own planet.

Group: Wizards of the Mind

Isha Agarwal
Anwita Kasar
Neha Khandekar
Tanvi Khot
Avni Mishra
Divya Thoppae
Sonia Wong

Age 12
Acton, MA
reflection >

The issue of microfibers is rarely discussed, which is alarming as most of the plastic pollution in our oceans is caused by microfibers. Global sampling of ocean water reveals that 80% of plastics in our ocean is microfibers. We came upon this topic while reading an article about microplastics at school, and by doing further research we found out that microfibers were the bigger threat to our food chain. We, humans, are contributing to this problem, and the sad part is most of us are not even aware of it, but by being aware we are taking a step in the right direction.

When we wash our clothes they shed microfibers, which go into the oceans and enter the marine food chain. This can lead to microfibers in the fish on our plates as some studies have already confirmed. In our video, we decided to show the problem through an Environmental Show where another material, Cotton, shows up and tells everyone the awful truth about microfibers and their harmful effects on the marine life. We chose to do a rap because it made the video entertaining and informative. By doing a film we were able to bring all these things together in an engaging way. As we researched, we understood the importance of raising awareness and helping the marine life. We also discovered some solutions, such as washing clothes at slower speeds and cooler temperatures. We humans started this problem, but if we all come together, we can fix it.

NOTABLE
SUBMISSION

$50

Tamara Hillman

Age 12
Leonia, NJ
reflection >

I decided to write a song because I like to sing and I also like to write. I created it by first making a tune and thinking of inspiring words to go with that tune. I found my inspiration through my deepest thoughts about how we, as human beings, should be helping the ocean and the animals living in it. Unfortunately, many people have contributed to making the environment worse. I have learned that this problem can only be fixed by us. We have to make this change now.  If we just sit around and continue to think, “Well, someone else will do it”, no change will ever happen. Ocean pollution makes me feel saddened by the fact that these ocean animals’ lives are threatened on a daily basis. I am disappointed by our actions.  We have contributed greatly to our oceans being so polluted and it’s time for people to take this issue seriously. While I am disheartened with the way things are now, I know that there is hope that people will start realizing the importance of this situation and work towards a solution.  “We Can’t Give Up” is a song about how we can get in “the game” and make a difference instead of just watching from the sidelines.

Heidi Hughes

Age 14
Rome, Italy
reflection >

Imagine if you were surrounded by litter and in danger of being caught in traps by mistaking plastic for food, risking your own life... Would you like that?

Ocean life is in great danger because of us and we are the ones who now need to save the marine life from getting worse. For this reason, I decided to create a video on how we humans are endangering and damaging life out in the oceans. I wanted to try and spread awareness through this video as someone who has personally seen damage when traveling around places. Every time you dump your plastic rubbish on the floor thinking nothing will happen, think twice, watch this video, and understand that just one person can affect many lives out there.

Darya Karaseva

Age 15
Yekaterinburg, Russia
reflection >

I believe that films were, are, and will be the best way to convey information to people. Doesn’t matter what kind of film it is. It can be funny and bizarre or serious and restrained. Despite all this, it will be the greatest way to impact people’s minds. This contest is a wonderful chance to raise a serious problem of our lives. Our generation is able to change this disgusting situation that happens to the earth.

I created this funny film because I think it is easier to raise such a serious problem in a form of a joke. I hope my video will make people think about ocean pollution. If we don’t do anything for the ocean, we will live exactly in the same conditions that I showed in my video. It’s very important to talk about this, only then we will change our lives. My film is a small step to fix the problem of the ocean pollution.

Amelia Kresge

Age 12
Hampden, ME
reflection >

This project helped me realize how I can make others aware of the consequences of ocean pollution.