Students Across California Send Giant Ocean Protection Message through Art for World Ocean Day

Artwork by Kids Ocean Day Art Contest Statewide Winner Tracy N. of Garden Grove featured in Collective Art Project on Tuesday, June 8

(Orange County, June 8, 2021) – After a year in which distance learning became standard in California’s schools, hundreds of elementary students from cities across California will be joining 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 8th (World Oceans Day), the students are gathering together symbolically through a collective art project that communicates what the ocean means to all of us.

“We are grateful to have found a way to inspire our students to express their love for the ocean and to come together as a community during a time when the pandemic has made it difficult to feel connected,” said Dyana Peña, Orange County Coastkeeper’s deputy director of programs.

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 is 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.

A total of 13 schools and 1,184 Orange County students participated in a virtual assembly program, and 184 of those students submitted photos to the mosaic project and art contest. Tracy N. of Garden Grove, Calif., won first place and her art will be the main photo for statewide mosaic project. Local Orange County teachers were instrumental in providing the best experiences for their students, even while virtual.

“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.”

Organizers for the Kids Ocean Day event include Friends of the Dunes (Humboldt County); the Marine Science Institute (San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties); the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education, the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works and LA Sanitation and Environment, Watershed Protection Program (Los Angeles County); Orange County Coastkeeper (Orange County); and I Love A Clean San Diego (San Diego County). 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.”

The Coastal Commission provides financial support to Kids’ Ocean Day efforts statewide with proceeds from the Whale Tail® License Plate and voluntary donations on the state tax return to the Protect Our Coast and Oceans Fund.

Check out the 2021 Kid’s Ocean Day Picture Mosaic and animation video here. Statewide art winners and finalists are listed below. To view their art pieces, visit

2021 Kid’s Ocean Day Winners

  • First Place: Tracy N.,5th grade (Teacher Julie Vo, Morningside Elementary School, Garden Grove)
  • Second place: Liana S., 7th grade (Teacher Jody Himango, McKinleyville Middle School, McKinleyville)
  • Third Place: Sophia M., 3rd grade (Teacher Jill Sethi, Nestle Avenue Charter Elementary School, Tarzana)
  • Finalist: Lyra F. 4th grade (Teacher Kisha Deleon, Ericson Elementary, San Diego)
  • Finalist: Michaela M., 5th grade (Teacher Mrs. Hollander, Daniel Webster Elementary, Daly City)





About Orange County Coastkeeper

Orange County Coastkeeper is a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, which has 241 different independent programs across 40 countries. Founded in 1999, the mission of Coastkeeper is to protect and promote sustainable water resources that are swimmable, drinkable, and fishable. Coastkeeper is a nonprofit clean water organization that serves as a proactive steward of our fresh- and saltwater ecosystems. We work collaboratively with diverse groups in the public and private sectors to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources for the region. We implement innovative, effective programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research, enforcement, and conservation. For more information, visit or call 714-850-1965.


About the California Coastal Commission

The California Coastal Commission is committed to protecting and enhancing California’s coast and ocean for present and future generations. It does so through careful planning and regulation of environmentally sustainable development, strong public participation, education, and effective intergovernmental coordination.

The Kids Ocean Day program is part of the Commission’s effort to raise public awareness of marine and coastal resources and promote coastal stewardship. For more information about the Commission’s programs and how to buy a Whale Tail License Plate, visit


About Kids Ocean Day

Kids Ocean Day was started in 1994 in Los Angeles County, by the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education. With support from the California Coastal Commission, the program expanded over the years to other regions of the state and now also takes place in Humboldt, San Francisco, Orange County, and San Diego.  The Kids Ocean Day School Assembly has been presented to over 750,000 children and nearly 167,000 have participated in Kid’s Ocean Day beach events over the years. For more information, visit

The Kids Ocean Day Art Contest and Picture Mosaic was produced by Spectral Q.

Kids Ocean Day Art Contest prizes were sponsored by Alexandria Van Reenan of Michael’s Art Supplies ( who provided gift cards to our contest winners and Julia Jaye Posin of Shuki ( who supplied metal straw gift sets for our early submission entries.

Additional content for the Picture Mosaic was sponsored by Whaleman Founder Jeff Pantukhoff and his team of professional photographers including Gene Flipse, Jason Moore, Oliver Milsom, and Lisa Denning who provided compelling underwater ocean photography.  Whaleman Foundation ( is dedicated to the health of our oceans and all marine life for our children and future generations. Whaleman Foundation has been supporting Kids Ocean Day since 2007.

Special thanks to Doug Woodring of Ocean Recovery Alliance ( for providing additional artworks from Kids Ocean Day Hong Kong projects dating back to 2013.