2018 Winners

To our students—

This year, we heard how the climate crisis makes you feel confused, frustrated, anxious or full of despair, but also… hopeful. The word “crisis” originates from the Greek word krisis, meaning “decisive moment,” or “turning point.” Indeed, we are witnessing a turning point where young people around the world inspire each other to advocate for the change our world needs. Your collective efforts to speak up for a healthier ocean and society are shaping this moment in time and your future. Thank you all for participating in this critical creative process.

We are so excited to share the winners of our 2018 Ocean Awareness Contest: “Our Oceans in a Changing Climate.” Almost 3,000 teenagers from 58 countries and 48 U.S. states responded to our annual call for art. The creativity, compassion, and courage of your work inspired and moved us, but did not surprise us. After 7 years of hosting the Ocean Awareness Contest, we know you are passionate and talented. We are honored that you shared your work with us.

Since the 2018 Contest launched last September and as our judges read, watched, and considered your works through this fall, Hurricane Maria swept through the Caribbean, wreaking havoc on the island of Puerto Rico and killing almost 3,000; Arctic temperatures reached 45 degrees above normal, and some of the oldest and most durable clusters of sea ice in the Arctic broke away from Greenland; and levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere not only reached a new record, but we continue to emit them faster than ever before.

Your paintings, poems, photographs, songs, films, essays, and stories explored all of these headlines, and much more. Your works revealed how climate change has already, and will continue to, impact marine life, from plankton to polar bears; wove connections between plastic, overconsumption of resources, and the climate; and shed light on the ways in which pollution and climate change affect human communities unequally, particularly communities of color.

Congratulations to everyone. Whether or not you earned an award, you are part of something big, and something growing: this global community of young people — and the many educators, parents, and mentors who support you — who care about climate action and are speaking out about the changes you want to see for your future, your community, and the many non-human inhabitants that you share this planet with.

Thank you to all of our student participants, supporting adults, and community partners. Together, we are creating a shift: bringing awareness to these important climate issues and inspiring a culture of respect and action for our blue planet.

Linda Cabot, Founder and President,
Alyssa Irizarry, Executive Director

High School Winners

An Unexpected Guest Eunice Choi

Los Angeles, CA

from sea to shining sea—
the bodies of fish litter the beaches
like scattered shells. I make a home
in the carcass…

The Tempest Taylor Fang

Logan, UT

KaiStar55’s Exclusive Preview of the Ocean Memorial Museum: Humhumunukunukuapua’a, Tears, and Lessons Learned
Daria Syskine

Cupertino, CA

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My Second Home Rose Ho

Valley Park, MO

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Our Changing World Saoirse Lewis

San Francisco, CA

Middle School Winners

A Dying Ocean Edith Low


The waves
Waves wash upon the shore, their
Foam soft and cool, they leave
Behind their tender trails of

Waves Lilli Villiot

Woodinville, WA

Graveyards Haunted By Ghosts In Color
Mikaila Sarad

Clifton Park, NY

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Be the Exception María Bascuñán

Christchurch, New Zealand

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Save the World Lilly Chertock

Venice, CA