Amusing Monday: Young artists examine problem of trash in the ocean

A free 2017 calendar, published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, features winning artwork in a contest that focuses on the problem of trash in the ocean, otherwise known as marine debris.

Art by Sallie S., a seventh grader from Washington state Courtesy of NOAA
By Sallie S., a seventh grader from Washington state
All pictures on this page courtesy of NOAA

More than 700 students from around the country participated in the contest, and one of the 13 winners was a seventh grader from Washington state named Sallie S. Neither her full name nor hometown was disclosed, and I never received a response to an email sent to her on my behalf by NOAA officials.

Sallie’s statement on the back of the calendar: “Marine debris impacts our oceans and Great Lakes, because the plastic and other garbage could badly injure or kill the sea animals. What I will do to keep our ocean debris free is to not litter. Not littering is very important, because if you litter the debris can go into drains, then it can go into the lake or the sea. Then once it goes in the sea, ocean organisms could then die.”

By Dayoung L., a fifth grader from Hawaii
By Dayoung L., a fifth grader from Hawaii

The contest has just reopened to take entries for the 2018 calendar, which will be published next year. The contest is open to any student from kindergarten through eighth grade. The deadline for submissions is Nov. 30. One can obtain an entry form and detailed rules from the contest website.

In 2013, I was pleased to write in Water Ways about a picture drawn by Araminta “Minty” Little, a seventh grader at Fairview Junior High School in Central Kitsap. Her picture shows an octopus grasping trash that has been thrown into the ocean, a picture now used in promotional materials for the marine debris art contest.

By James S., a sixth grader from Louisiana.
By James S., a sixth grader from Louisiana.

The 2017 calendar is available for download, and a limited number of printed calendars may be ordered. Pictures on this page are featured in that calendar. For details, visit the website “Keep the seas free of debris.”

“Our oceans are filled with items that do not belong there,” states NOAA’s “Discover the Issue” webpage. “Huge amounts of consumer plastics, metals, rubber, paper, textiles, derelict fishing gear, vessels, and other lost or discarded items enter the marine environment every day, making marine debris one of the most widespread pollution problems facing the world’s oceans and waterways.

By Emily B., an eighth grader from Pennsylvania
By Emily B., an eighth grader from Pennsylvania

“Marine debris is defined as any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes,” the website continues. “It is a global problem, and it is an everyday problem. There is no part of the world left untouched by debris and its impacts. Marine debris is a threat to our environment, navigation safety, the economy and human health.”

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