Crop from Anastasia Nguyen's artwork terns flying along the shoreline

2024 Coastal Art & Poetry Contest Winners

Coastal Art & Poetry Contest Details




Two Heartbeats

Salt remnants, like lip scrub under my nose
Feet submerged, toes curled and splayed
Silky sand between my fingers
A pinky promise between the Wind and Sea
            "I'll come back if you stay here for me."

Floating to merge with Sea's frozen heart
Seaweed creeps up along my arms
The fish cower, afraid of human song
Bask here with me, under light we breathe
Sea, my abode

I dwell like hermits, cracked shell and free
Sway like jelly, floating along your body
Lay like seashells, discarded and asleep

I am not unlike you, Sea
A broken heart just like you, see?
You are safe here with me

Emilie Vu-Nguyen
Grade 12, Fresno


Far and Below

Elusive squid in the murky abyss
Share your secrets with curious ears
Still you glow like a newborn star
Dotting the eternal night below

Ink escapes your rosy frame
Fleeing the scene, to vaguely be seen
Thousands of children asleep in your arms
Unaware of the barren deep

I dream of you beyond the sand
Waiting for me, waiting for us
Hypnotic movements ensnare me so
Beckoning me to the place I call home

Bianca Robak
Grade 12, Lomita


Orchestra of Chaos

The shallow strings of grass bend in the song of the wind
The reeds of love concave at the bough of the canoe
The swish of fins echo in the ears of kelp
The murex slips, breathing sharp, catches only from a hair
Life cries to the orchestra
Life cries in secret desperation through the storm
Lighting the sky with danger
Tremendous mountains crash along the shore
Life bleeds but feels no pain
Light comes to, the bark of the crowd arises
The cry of a child, the cry of the old
All Tears taste the same

Claire Scanlan
Grade 11, Ramona


The Beauty in the Beach

Upon the shore where waves embrace the land,
A realm of dreams, where grains of golden sand.
The ocean's canvas, vast and azure-blue,
Where seagulls dance and skies reflect their hue.

The sun, a blazing orb of radiant fire,
Paints streaks of crimson in the evening's mire.
As daylight wanes, the stars begin to gleam,
A cosmic dance, a mesmerizing dream.

The gentle tide, a lullaby's sweet rhyme,
Caresses shores with each rhythmic chime.
It whispers secrets to the shells and stones,
In undertones of ancient ocean's moans.

Beneath the surface, life in vibrant bloom,
Corals like gardens, casting off their plume.
Neon fish in schools, a vibrant display,
In this aquatic world, they find their way.

Footprints in the sand, a fleeting trace,
As time and tide in endless waltz embrace.
A memory etched in grains, soon to fade,
But the beach's beauty will never trade.

So, walk this shore, where dreams and reality meet,
Where the beach's beauty is both wild and sweet.
With every wave, a story it will teach,
In nature's grandeur, the timeless beach.

Krystal Taylor
Grade 11, Riverside


In reference to "Love Letter from the Sea to the Shore" by Delaney Bailey

Life remains ever changing, but I know
I could count on you.
Your iridescent waves remain stagnant,
when I need you most
and I continually come back to you
for a breath of fresh, coastal air;
just as you return to me at the shore.
No matter how far I drift away
and Redondo's
Pacific currents will always pull me back in.
Into the place of my youth
where I scavenged for shells to hear distant sounds;
crafted kingdoms of sand, which I once ruled.

Mattea Zurielle D. Menjares
Grade 12, Gardena




lines in the sand

i drew a line yesterday,
a line in the sand, one might say,
nothing these cold california waters can't take away
i promise, it’s nothing that would stay

i knew the line would soon fray,
whispers of the sea breeze carrying it astray,
a fleeting promise, lost in the bay.
gone, these careless california waters will wash it away

those grains of time, the sand slips,
not even a little sticking to my fingertips,
the memory won’t linger, even the line is now eclipsed,
swallowed by california water's swollen lips

the frantic waves know lost stories, broken oaths sworn,
in the leisurely tide, half-hearted promises carried and worn,
the lonely winds will sweep and mourn,
these accepting california waters, forever forlorn

these california waters, cool and bold,
armed with secrets, ancient and old.
let the mistakes, the imperfections in your line fade,
let them be lost in the dance, by the breeze betrayed,

let grains of time slip through fingers light,
harsh memories won’t linger, they take their flight.
in california waters carrying your plight,
let the broken line fade into the tumultuous night

let each rising tide pull you into a trance,
to draw a new line, take another chance,
the current will carry your burden in a fleeting dance,
these california waters, seemingly fickle but so steadfast,

if you'd just draw another line, let it waltz and weave,
on the shoreline where dreams and realities cleave.
in the embrace of these california waters, you'll believe,
your long-forgotten wishes, the waters retrieve

stay with our california waters, please don't go
dip your toes in the water, watch the moonlight flicker and glow,
on our knowing california waters, take life beautiful and slow,
a fresh page, a blank slate, let’s start anew.

Radhika Shah
Grade 9, Fremont


The Great Blue Heron

Rising above a curtain of estuary reeds
like steam from a pot
the heron
a marionette.

Too tall to fly
you'd think
but the heron defies
as it glides through San Pedro winds
and blazing heat
chopstick legs and lizards' feet
the heron defies
as it flies.

Watercolor feathers
beak like a sword
the heron pierces skies
and scales
Standing proud above cattails.

Wings open
a feathered kite
out of a Dalí
River Royalty.

A silent bird

neck a ribbon
fierce precision

A silent bird
Whose sight is music.

James Corman
Grade 9, Los Angeles


i wish in saltwater billows and gritty gold

o, my own and only! in your extremities, i find solace and salvation
in your tide pools teeming with maroon, pulsating anemone, and as their
breaths collide and mix with mine, our reciprocation falls along with
hiding soundly under rocks and awaiting confrontation by those above.

i am whole in your reefing coral spine, in your spiked shark's jaw,
in sucking delicate starfishes lining my fingers and forearms.
i am whole in your sea glass turquoise irises, in your seaweed soul,
in your blue whale veins, immense enough to contain my cosmic bliss.

o, my own and only! i watch as your endless expanses extend
beyond my singular knowledge, and perhaps this excites me, as your
presence will remain sound and unscathed as my kin walk upon
this muddy earth, to wet and dry their calloused feet by your doorstep.

i am unabridged, i am complete, i am everything in dolphin's whine,
in their baby blue seahorse gallops, in its angler fish's glow,
and in every ebb and flow in my jellyfish's uncalloused fingers,
i am whole, i am everything, everywhere and depleted and mine.

yet soon, i am twelve once more, with opalescent braces and book in hand,
while tortured in thick, oily anxieties, now conciliated by delicate crashes,
warm, life-giving sand, holding grease-coated tongues, i am healed in
your watery billows that crash and call my name into expanses deep and far.

and as i wash briny braids in the sink and slither, body lotion,
into baby blue hello kitty pajamas, i will wish upon wish upon
that in our vast, blue-misted morning, i shall find myself again
underneath aquamarine tides, my own and only kingdom.

Emma Quintero
Grade 9, Pasadena


There Aren't No Borders Here

There aren't no borders here
           If you find yourself among the waves, a break
           Away from the hazy
           Day-by-day working life
           Where you travel [mindless], eyes glazed
           Go to the waves.
  Let the hiss of sand sing you
awake softly, sweetly

  Open your soul to the cerulean lullaby
 crustaceans scuttle through sand
among miles of stretching, distant land
           take a hand and
           cup it

 dip your fingers into the cool
  deep chasm
of an ever-lapping love
lose that long-lost feeling

                       Who knew home could be this deep?
           Let the salty mist fill your lungs
           The earth's lover
           Aphrodite's mother
    guide you

waves whisper, hiss, slide
"Child, there aren't no borders here"
And wash away your tears gently stitch back the tears
The world is always taking
Pulling, yearning, for separation

But here on this beach
    Listen to her gentle speech
  there isn't an unraveling, just
the place where sea and land meet

             Ocean, vast, ever expansive
            Comforting, loving embrace
           There aren't no borders here

Six Silva
Grade 8, Pacifica


Ode to the Sea

The sea is free
Never predicted, never controlled.
It can eat cities,
But it chooses to brush the shore.

Its cold grasp when I reach out.
A grasp that softens
The cracked, white lines along my knuckles.

The salt water stings
The ripped blisters,
And it soothes
The old scars.

The sea stares at me.
It's a dark gaze that reflects
A part of me
I'd rather forget.

The sea is sweet
Compared to the
Salty red
From all the wasted breaths.

Garrett Wong
Grade 9, Fountain Valley





I am Fluorescent pink
Brilliant red
Vibrant blue

I have thousands of tentacles
Hundreds of spikes
Millions of branches

I am the brains
The bushes
The trees

I shelter the Spiny Lobster
I feed the Garibaldi
I nurture the Sunburst Anemone

I am the heart of the sea

I have been here
since the start of time

Once my beauty was told
I flourished and thrived

But then you came
And drank the life out of the sea

Hurt, defeated.
I still hang on
Knowing that someday I will be
Strong, big and powerful again
And when that day comes
You will have changed

Nya Wang-Jethi
Grade 5, Redwood City



Elegant dancers leap, twirl, float, and pirouette through the water.
They don't wear dazzling leotards or elegant skirts.
These dancers are called kelp.

Forests stand tall and strong in the middle of the ocean.
The trees don’t have solid trunks or thick leaves.
The trees are called kelp.

Children sway to the music of the pounding waves.
These children aren't made of flesh and bone.
These children are called kelp.

Flowers bloom under the protection of the ocean and light of the sun.
These flowers don't have delicate petals and soft centers.
These flowers are called kelp.

Candles bring light to the ocean and the world around them.
These candles aren’t made of dripping wax and flickering flame.
Yet they still bring light to the world.

These candles are called kelp.

Adelyn Haskins
Grade 5, Laguna Niguel


World Beneath the Waves

White topped waves conceal
An underwater world
Garibaldi flashing in bright sun
And disperse into curtains of kelp unfurled
Schools of silverfish move as one
And slip through curtains of dull green kelp
Sharks and whales in shades of gray
Wait to feed on hidden prey
Bubbles rising reveal
An underwater world
No longer the ocean's to conceal

Manting Liu
Grade 6, Foster City


Whale Song

All I saw was gray.
A burst of mist shot from the wavy water.

I heard a song,
a blue whale breached.
A big splash
It jumped. It leaped.

After the mother jumped soon came her daughter,
Then her whole pod.
The song of the sea,
It was beautiful,
The sound was so majestic,
Again there was a burst of water from the spout,
They leaped more,
And mist shooted from the spout
it hit my face,
The waves splashed up
The cool breeze as the boat went forward,
It was so nice

I looked at the water below and saw dolphins,
They swam fast,
They got in front of the boat
They jumped up high and the spout opened,
Then soon closed when they splashed in the water,
Soon we passed the pod,
Then my attention fell back on the whales,
The pod left but the child of the first whale stayed.
It leaped It jumped,
It gave me a beautiful show,
And I saw its beauty as the sun shined on her
Then soon the child left, and we headed back to shore.

Siona Pedrocchi
Grade 6, Goleta


Skies of the Bay

The bloodshot skies of the sun below the horizons in a late day by the breezy bay. The sound of birds chirping and seals clapping their fins floods your ears and submerges you underwater in a pool of sound. The orange sunrise in winter late in the day fills your head with colorful images of the sky. At sunset the sky turns a cotton-candy pink and a soft blue. The sound of boat bells ringing across the sea, the sound of people chattering makes you feel small.

Poppy Sargent
Grade 4, San Francisco




Friends by the Bay

Ada comes over, and we ask to play
Down by the beach at the mouth of the bay

In the back of the car, buckled into our seats
We take turns choosing some pretty slick beats

We both run right in, even though it is cold
A little bit scared, we make up our minds to be bold

Through fog, orange bridge cables climb and form peaks
Flocks of pelicans in V’s lead with their beaks

Floating on the water, enormous ships are filled
With colorful boxes stacked like the legos I

The waves roll and break, and then we run
Our hearts beating fast from all of the fun

Surrounded by water, I look up to see
A shiny black sea lion riding the surf, just like me

We run to the sand, our wet skin cold as ice
My mom wraps us up and the warmness is nice

We wave goodbye to the bridge, the waves, and the sand,
Sad to be leaving, but happy hand in hand.

Ivan DeVries
Grade 3, San Francisco


The Shores and Tide Pools of Hazards

Flowing life everywhere
Waves washing treasures upon the shore
Sea spray in my face
Wind blowing through my hair
Waves crashing on the cliffs
Barnacles waving to the sky
Sea anemones sucking up food and tide, like a blackhole
A crab holds its pincers up ready to grab a passing snack
A starfish suctions onto a rock
An octopus slowly crawls over water-filled pools
Small fish dart back and forth between crevices in the rocks
A hermit crab makes his home in an empty shell
Flowing life everywhere

Dylan Bingham
Grade 3, Baywood-Los Osos


Water Blue Flows

Waves flow
As you go down low.
The sea smell is high.
You think it's divine.
The warm tea is hot.
Do you want a drop?
The sun is setting and the ocean shines. You
feel its warmness and it’s beautifully fine. You
are with me and I am with you. Together we
can run into the ocean blues

Olivia Fike
Grade 3, Santa Paula


Ocean Waves

Ocean waves look like mountains
Going up and back down
Ocean waves are cold
Making me frown
Ocean waves sound like rocket ships
Blasting off
Ocean waves in my mouth
Making me cough

Amorette Filemu
Grade 2, Orange


Boogie Boarding

Racing to the waves
Crystal clear waves taking me to shore
Paddling and kicking to speed up
Hopping over the waves
Sitting on my knees and sliding

Trying to catch huge waves
Riding on top of the crest
Saltwater splashing into my face
Sliding under the wave

Julian Zatt
Grade 3, La Jolla





Leopard Shark
In the style of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle

Leopard shark,
Leopard shark,
What do you see?

I see a green kelp forest
looking at me.

Kelp forest,
Kelp forest,
What do you see?

I see orange fish eggs
looking at me.

Fish eggs,
Fish eggs,
What do you see?

I see a muddy habitat
looking at me.

Muddy habitat,
Muddy habitat,
What do you see?

I see a spotted leopard shark
looking at me.

Lorenzo Ripoll
Grade 1, Whittier


Monterey Bay

The Ocean is waving from its high point
And the King of the Ocean is a grand high point.
From the seagulls that fly high
To the fish that swim deep.
Oh, the Ocean is calling to me!

I smell the salty Bay air.
I gaze upon the small white clouds,
That sail in the sky.
The wind whispers in my ear
And I feel the wet sand on my toes.
Oh, to be a mermaid and splash away!

Alexandra Chapman
Grade 1, Folsom



Sharp Shimmering Sand
and Crabs
dangerous waves
that wash Things ashore
that wash to other beaches
and Spike your feet

Elliot Cheng
Kindergarten, San Francisco



I had fun at California beach, and it can teach me a lot.
It is beautiful with birds and kites flying.
I see birds eating fish and fish live in the water.
The sun is pretty with bright colors, and it hides in the water
when it sets in the evening.
It is paradise!
When I walk, I see rainbow-colored shells.
There is a kind of shell called Clams. They open and close their mouth.
The shells come from the water when the waves come to the sand.
I put them in the bucket and play.
The sand is soft like a pillow, and I made a big sandcastle.
The waves are big, and I like to surf in the waves.
Some things like wrappers, plastic bags, and straws harm sea animals.
We should protect California beaches by not throwing trash.

Neya Seelan
Grade 1, Irvine