NOAA art contest inspires ocean awareness among local youth

Winter 2013

This year marks the Aquarium of the Pacific’s seventh annual NOAA Day. The event, which took place this November, showcases the breadth of NOAA’s work along the West Coast—from satellites and weather to oceans and fisheries. The event also includes a unique way to get local high school students involved and educate them about ocean and environmental health. Through the NOAA art contest, students are able to express their distinct perspectives about the resources NOAA manages.    

Each year NOAA selects a different theme for students to explore through art. It requires them to research information from NOAA and then incorporate it into their artwork. This year’s theme, “Visions of the Deep,” directed students to NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research where they learned about deep sea creatures and NOAA’s various research efforts. Participants were judged based on several criteria, including visual impact, communication of the theme, and artistic merit. Winners were selected by the NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region’s Long Beach staff. 

art contest winner

“Textures of the Deep”  winning illustration by Catherine Mason

This year, Catherine Mason, a freshman at McBride High School, took first place for Group 1 (Grades 9-10). Titled “Textures of the Deep,” Catherine’s work incorporated watercolor with ink to create a unique deep sea angler fish with various textures. She conducted extensive research about how angler fish utilize the deep sea environment. From here, Catherine selected one particular angler fish and developed a basic contour drawing. She created a watercolor background to emphasize the habitat and transferred her drawing to that background. As part of the curriculum and project requirements, Catherine added different types of textures to different segments of her angler fish drawing, allowing her to show off the fish and demonstrate her understanding of texture.

NOAA art day winner

Winning illustration by Neda Noeum

Neda Noeum, a junior at Millikan High School, was selected as the first place winner from Group 2 (Grades 11-12). Her research focused on squid and the array of threats they face today. Neda’s research culminated in a painted image of squid being sliced by a harpoon, depicting the squid fishery on the West Coast. In California, market squid is one of the most valuable fishery resources, accounting for a significant portion of the total landings of coastal pelagic species on the West Coast. NOAA Fisheries works closely with the state of California to ensure that this fishery is sustainably managed. According to Neda, “Completing this project for NOAA helped open my mind to what is really happening to the world around us, including to creatures living in the ocean.”

The contest also included second and third place winners in each group, as well as several honorable mentions. All student artwork was displayed at the Aquarium of Pacific for NOAA Day. The contest opens a world of deep sea exploration to these students. It encourages them to learn about ocean science and the work NOAA does each and every day to protect our marine resources. It also ensures our students are aware of the challenges our marine environments face. Perhaps most importantly, they leave this experience with an understanding that they can contribute to the future health of our oceans.

Home page illustration by Neda Noeum, a junior at Millikan High School in Long Beach, California.