Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest and Calendar

Artwork of a beach littered with marine debris and a sea turtle and other creatures being harmed by the debris.
2023 Calendar Winners
Artwork of an hourglass with sea creatures in the top half, becoming plastic bottles in the bottom half.
Artwork by Betty L. (Grade 8, Florida), winner of the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest.
Artwork of a coral reef scene featuring debris amid creatures asking for "Help".
Artwork by Paola G. (Grade 1, Virginia), winner of the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest.
Artwork of a sandy beach with debris and seashells spelling out "Stop Debris, [love] Me".
Artwork by Ella K. (Grade 2, Virginia), winner of the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest.
Artwork of a sad octopus holding a discarded container with the message "Keep Our Beaches Debris Free!".
Artwork by K'Moya S. (Grade 3, U.S. Virgin Islands), winner of the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest.
Artwork of a bandaged whale with a pile of debris and coral on its back.
Artwork by Lydia X. (Grade 4, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), winner of the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest.
Artwork of a coral reef scene with debris and sea creatures holding signs that read "Save the Sea!".
Artwork by Ella U. (Grade 5, Alabama), winner of the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest.
Artwork of an underwater scene with coffee cups, masks, and other debris around text reading "Help Save the Ocean".
Artwork by Cordelia S. (Grade 5, Ohio), winner of the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest.
Artwork of a sea turtle trapped in a tire and plastic glove, with text reading "#Plasticfree".
Artwork by Jihun P. (Grade 6, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), winner of the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest.
Artwork of an infinity symbol filled with images of debris over an undersea scene, with text reading "Water Is Life Make It Perfect".
Artwork by Cliff W. (Grade 6, Pennsylvania), winner of the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest.
Artwork of two halves of a puzzle, one depicting clean seas and one with seas impacted by marine debris.
Artwork by Trisha G. (Grade 7, Florida), winner of the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest.
Artwork of A plastic bottle with fish trapped inside, surrounded by concerned sea creatures.
Artwork by Ian K. (Grade 7, New Jersey), winner of the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest
Artwork of a person conducting a cleanup, with happy sea creatures and debris-impacted creatures behind.
Artwork by Manvitha S. (Grade 7, West Virginia), winner of the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest.
Artwork of a colorful mermaid surrounded by grey debris.
Artwork by Mary Y. (Grade 8, New Jersey), winner of the Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest.

The NOAA Marine Debris Art Contest is now closed! The contest will reopen in fall 2022. Check out the 2022 Marine Debris Calendar, now available for download!

Annual Marine Debris Program Art Contest Overview

The NOAA Marine Debris Program holds an annual art contest to reach K-8 students and help raise awareness about marine debris. Marine debris is a global issue and we believe that engaging our youth is an important part of addressing the problem. The resulting calendar, featuring the winning artwork, provides a daily reminder of how important it is for us to be responsible stewards of the ocean. Students are highly encouraged to check out resources on this website for information about marine debris.

Who is eligible to enter the contest?

All students in kindergarten through eighth grade from all U.S. states and territories in recognized public, private, and home schools are eligible to participate. Schools, including home schools, must be in compliance with federal and state civil rights and nondiscrimination statutes. Students may submit entries on their own or as part of a classroom, but must work individually.

Entry Requirements

Each entry must be composed of a piece of artwork and a description (on the entry form). All must meet the requirements below. A NOAA awards panel will collect all entries and select 13 winners to be featured in a marine debris calendar. Entries will be judged on the creativity, artistic presentation, and relevancy to the theme of:

  1. How marine debris impacts the ocean and the Great Lakes environment.
  2. What you are doing to help prevent marine debris.

Artwork & Description Requirements:

  1. One entry per student
  2. The entries must be on a single sheet of 8.5” x 11” paper, landscape.
  3. Use white, non-glossy paper; do not laminate.
  4. Any art medium may be used (e.g., colored pencils, crayons, paint), computer graphics will not be accepted. Artwork must be hand-drawn by the student.
  5. Artwork must be flat (e.g., no glued pieces or glitter) and able to be scanned.
  6. Avoid labeling debris items with any brand names in the artwork.
  7. A description of no more than 75 words must accompany the artwork (space provided on the entry form).
  8. Label each mail entry on the back in pencil (marker bleeds through the artwork) with student’s name, age, and grade, along with the teacher’s name, school name, address, and telephone number.
  9. If submitting your entry electronically, accepted file types are: JPEG, PNG, or TIFF. Make sure your files are high resolution (scanning is encouraged), not crooked, and are easy to see and/or read.

Entry Submission (Contest is now closed)

This year we are accepting entries by mail and electronically. There should be one entry form filled out per student. Please ensure that the entry form is filled out completely and legibly. All entries (entry form + artwork) must be submitted by mail (postmarked) or electronically no later than December 10, 2021.

If you have any questions, please email md.artcontest@noaa.gov.

Submitting Entries By Mail
Mail your entry (entry form + artwork) to:

Marine Debris Art Contest
NOAA Marine Debris Program
1305 East-West Highway,
SSMC4, 10th Floor
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Submitting Entries Electronically
Email your entry (entry form + artwork) to: md.artcontest@noaa.gov 

    • Attach the entry form
    • Attach the artwork as a JPEG, PNG, or TIFF 
    • Make sure your artwork is high resolution (scanning is encouraged), not crooked, and are easy to see and/or read
    • Please note: Our email system will not accept emails with attachments larger than 18MB. If you are submitting multiple entries via email, please number them, send them in individual emails, or reach out to confirm we have received all of your entries.

    2022 Art Contest Winners

    Congratulations to our 2022 NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest winners! The Marine Debris Program selected 13 pieces of artwork, and they are featured in our 2023 Marine Debris Calendar! Thank you to all the students who participated in this year's contest! We plan to announce the winners of the current art contest in spring 2022.

    The 2022 Marine Debris Calendar is available for download. We are unable to offer hard copies of the calendar at this time.