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Students Across California Send Giant Ocean Protection Message

After a year in which distance learning became standard in California’s schools, hundreds of elementary students from cities across California joined together virtually to send a message to the ocean, as the culmination of the 27th Annual Kids Ocean Day Program. Due to the pandemic, the annual program shifted to live online presentations this year, reaching 4,503 students who learned about watersheds and how they are personally connected to their watershed and the ocean. On June 8 (World Ocean Day), the students gathered together symbolically through a collective art project that communicates what the ocean means to all of us.

In a typical year, Kids Ocean Day coordinators in five regions up and down the coast would host in-school presentations, which would be followed by a beach cleanup, and culminate with the students forming a work of aerial art (photographed from above) to send a message about the need for clean beaches.

This year, instead of a student-led aerial art formation, students who attended an online classroom presentation were encouraged to create an original artwork illustrating what they love about the ocean for submission to the 2021 Kids Ocean Day Art Contest.

“Kids Ocean Day 2021 is different from past years but is still very impactful,” said Chris Parry, Public Education Program with the California Coastal Commission. “With each student’s ocean-themed artwork forming part of a collective art project, together they are making a powerful statement about their shared commitment to care for California’s beaches and the Pacific Ocean.”

Each art entry was included as an individual image in a giant online mosaic. The statewide first-place winning artwork is the main image of the mosaic. Contest winners and their teachers received gift cards and other prizes.

Check out the 2021 Kid’s Ocean Day Picture Mosaic and animation video at or on the Coastal Commission’s YouTube page: The California Coast - YouTube. To view the pieces submitted by the statewide art winners and finalists, visit

“While we have not been able to gather students for in-person school assemblies or a beach cleanup this year, our mission to educate young people continues,” said Michael Klubock, founder of the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education and the annual Kids Ocean Day event. “We are thankful we can still get the message out to elementary students online that they have the power to make a positive difference every day in keeping our environment clean.”

The statewide program is sponsored by the California Coastal Commission and its Whale Tail Grants Program.

“It’s natural for us to protect what we love, like our families and our homes,” said Jack Ainsworth, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission. “These kids are showing the ocean some love and appreciation and encouraging us to follow their lead. They understand that our home doesn’t end at our doorstep and that we also need to tend to our wider home – the environment where we all live – since we depend on the ocean being healthy, and the ocean depends on us to keep it that way.”