Sea and Shore Preservation: The Migrating Human Whale Project

Eddie Sakaki
Along the West Coast, volunteers show creativity and respect for the ocean.

For nearly a decade, Ocean Day has rallied youngsters to protect marine life and the environment. Last year, as part of that annual celebration, The Migrating Human Whale Project motivated 10,000 kids from Mexico to Canada to clean Western beaches and raise awareness about threatened whales. "It was a labor of love," says program director John Quigley. "We showed kids that making a difference can be fun."

The project, which held events in eight different cities along the whale migration route, began in Loreto, Mexico, where the world's largest whales birth their calves. Unfortunately, Loreto's arroyo poses a growing danger to marine life because it's filled with garbage.

John joined with the Loreto Bay Company, the Malibu Foundation, the Loreto Bay Foundation, the California Coastal Commission, and other organizations to address the problem. They gathered some 800 local students, who made a visual dent in the shore's trash problem by collecting paper products, plastic bottles, even a refrigerator. Following the beach cleanup, children and adult volunteers assembled in designated spots to form a giant whale, which was photographed from a helicopter. The aerial art sent a dramatic message about protecting marine animals. "This was a day of education and service," John says.

He and the Ocean Day network hope for similar success this year, when they focus on kids and the power of their actions. "Each Ocean Day is fresh and different, but the core of the experience remains the same," John says. "We bring folks together with the common goal to honor the ocean."

The Migrating Human Whale Project;

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