West Marine announced the winners of its inaugural World Oceans Day Bag Design Contest.
Elsa Simenstad, 12, of San Anselmo, Calif., won in the 5-12 age category; Amber Davis, 16, of Key Largo, Fla., won in the 13-18 age category.
The company invited children and teens to submit original artwork inspired by the 2016 World Oceans Day theme — Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet. In keeping with that theme, Simenstad’s artwork depicts a healthy ocean with colorful, vibrant sea life.
“I am a sailor, so the ocean is a big part of my life,” she wrote. “I want to keep it as healthy and beautiful as possible.”
In Davis’ piece a sea turtle glides past two objects, a jellyfish and a plastic shopping bag, accompanied by the words: “Do you see the difference? A turtle does not.”
“I created this piece to represent how plastic pollution easily can affect the ocean and the wildlife living in it,” Davis said in a statement. Of plastic bags, she adds, “Their thin, transparent plasticity gives them resemblance to jellyfish, fooling turtles and other marine life that eat them, creating deformities and often [causing] fatality.”
A panel of West Marine judges selected the winning artwork based on originality, interpretation of the theme and age-appropriate technical skills.
Both pieces of winning artwork and the artists’ signatures will appear on reusable, eco-friendly bags that will be available for purchase in select West Marine stores across North America, starting June 1, at a cost of $5 each.
All proceeds from bag sales will be donated to West Marine’s BlueFuture Fund, which provides grants to community-based, nonprofit organizations across North America that are dedicated to youth waterlife adventure, education and stewardship.
Each winner of the World Oceans Day Bag Design Contest also is receiving a $250 West Marine gift card as an additional thank you.
“We’re deeply grateful to all the talented young artists who took the time to create special pieces of artwork for this contest,” West Marine communications director Lindsey Johnson said. “Not only are they supporting community-based youth programs on and around the water, they’re inspiring others through their own artistic vision and passion.”