Announcing the 2019 Ocean Awareness Contest Winners
January 6, 2020

We are pleased and honored to present the 2019 class of Ocean Awareness Contest winners! “Presence of Future” invited students from around the world to create artwork about a coastal or marine species, place, or system being threatened, altered, or lost due to climate change. These new pieces of visual art, poetry, music, prose, and film weave students’ personal experiences and memories, observations and speculations, and knowledge of climate science into a powerful collection exploring our intimate connection with oceans and marine life.

View 2019 Winners >


Mackenzie Martin, 18, Maine, “Self-Destruction”

Our students have only known a warming world and increasing global environmental crises. Through their works, they shine a light on the decline of plankton populations, which produce more than half of the oxygen we breathe; on bleaching and dying reefs that uphold coastlines, livelihoods, and cultures; on the millions of climate refugees forced to leave their homes and ways of life; and on the fossil fuel industry’s destructive practices that created the planetary emergency. Our students remind us of what is at stake if we don’t change course—urgently, radically, fairly, and compassionately.


Natali Kim, 17, California, “Lost Homes: Climate Refugees in the Near Future”

By creating and sharing these personal, emotional responses to their climate reality, our students are imagining beyond themselves, understanding the need for collective exchange and action—not just in the short-term, but for future generations of life on Earth. Each piece is a brave, active, and hopeful contribution to a global climate movement driven by narratives of care, innovation, and justice.


Denis Avdic, 14, Bosnia and Herzegovina, “The Book of the Earth”

Unlike many of the adults leading conversations in international climate policy negotiations or government offices, youth are demonstrating their ability to imagine—and the courage to demand—alternate stories to guide us through “rapid and far-reaching transitions” in “all aspects of society,”* which are critical to ensuring a climate-safe future.

& as a human being,
as a child,
i would expect that the leaders
would do something more.
—Dylan Sanders, 14, Texas, from “Earthly Sins”

It is our responsibility to uplift these prescient voices who dare to think beyond the structures and systems that have fueled our planetary emergency, and who believe in the power of creativity to guide envisioning, advocating, and enacting change.

Please join us in celebrating these incredible young creators!

2019 Student Gallery >

Bow Seat’s annual Ocean Awareness Contest, now in its ninth year, has engaged more than 12,000 middle and high schoolers from 106 countries and all 50 U.S. states in ocean education and activism through the creative arts. The 2020 Contest, “Climate Hope: Transforming Crisis,” is open now through June 15, 2020, to students ages 11-18 worldwide. Learn more >

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Announcing the 2019 Ocean Awareness Contest Winners