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

By Allen B. Bunting
January 24, 2008
Eddie Sakaki

For nearly a decade, Ocean Day has rallied youngsters to protectmarine life and the environment. Last year, as part of that annualcelebration, The Migrating Human Whale Projectmotivated 10,000 kids from Mexico to Canada to clean Westernbeaches and raise awareness about threatened whales. "It was alabor of love," says program director John Quigley. "We showed kidsthat making a difference can be fun."

The project, which held events in eight different cities alongthe whale migration route, began in Loreto, Mexico, where theworld's largest whales birth their calves. Unfortunately, Loreto'sarroyo poses a growing danger to marine life because it's filledwith garbage.

John joined with the Loreto Bay Company, the Malibu Foundation,the Loreto Bay Foundation, the California Coastal Commission, andother organizations to address the problem. They gathered some 800local students, who made a visual dent in the shore's trash problemby collecting paper products, plastic bottles, even a refrigerator.Following the beach cleanup, children and adult volunteersassembled in designated spots to form a giant whale, which wasphotographed from a helicopter. The aerial art sent a dramaticmessage about protecting marine animals. "This was a day ofeducation 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 OceanDay is fresh and different, but the core of the experience remainsthe same," John says. "We bring folks together with the common goalto honor the ocean."