Do Something About Marine Debris

Marine debris is a problem caused by people, but it also has human solutions. Those solutions can start with you! Learn more about things you can do to keep our sea free of debris.

Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest and Calendar

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Art Contest
Artwork of a colorful mermaid and ocean life surrounded by grey debris.
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The NOAA Marine Debris Art Contest is now closed! Check out the 2023 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 the 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 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 16, 2022.

If you have any questions, please email

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

Marine Debris Art Contest
NOAA Marine Debris Program
1325 East-West Highway,
SSMC2, Room 3201
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Submitting Entries Electronically
Email your entry (entry form + artwork) to: 

    • 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.

    2023 Art Contest Winners

    Congratulations to our 2023 NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest winners! The Marine Debris Program selected 13 pieces of work, and they will be featured in our 2024 Marine Debris Calendar! Thank you to all the students who participated in this year's contest!

    The 2023 Marine Debris Calendar is currently available for download and in print. If interested in a print copy, email us at

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    The 2023 Marine Debris Calendar is now available for download! Learn more about the annual NOAA Marine Debris Art Contest.

    Collecting Marine Debris Data

    Marine debris is a familiar sight on shorelines around the world, and a reminder that there is still work to be done to tackle this global environmental problem. In order to learn more about the problem and understand the types and amount of marine debris in our environment, we need to collect data - and you can help!

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