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  Collage of Coastal Photography

WHALE TAILSM License Plate Design Contest

Current WHALE TAIL Plate
Current WHALE TAIL Plate
The California Coastal Commission announces the WHALE TAILSM License Plate Design Contest. The winning artwork will be featured on a new official DMV license plate and will be available for purchase by all California drivers. This is an opportunity to get widespread exposure and visibility for your work and take an active part in preserving California’s coast. A $1,000 cash prize will be awarded for the winning design. The cash prize was made possible by the California State Parks Foundation.

The Coastal Commission is launching this contest to find a new image for its specialty license plate, known as the Whale Tail plate. As with the current plate, funds raised from purchase and renewal fees will support marine education, beach enhancement, and coastal trails. The new license plate will most likely be available for purchase in late 2009. (Although the current design will no longer be sold at that point, it may remain on vehicles indefinitely.).

Any artistic media including photography, painting, digital art, or graphic design may be used – the key is that the image area be 11-3/8 inches wide by 5-3/8 inches high and work as the background for a California license plate. A license plate template at 50% scale is included with the guidelines, and an actual size version can be found in the bullet list below. The design must include a whale tail, which may be the central feature or part of a broader California coastal motif. Please refer to the contest guidelines for complete contest rules.

Entries, including entry forms, must be postmarked
or hand-delivered to the Coastal Commission’s
San Francisco office by 5pm on January 15, 2009.

If you have any questions or need more information, you may:
  • e-mail us at,
  • call us at (800) COAST 4U (800-262-7848),
  • or write to us at:

          Whale Tail Design Contest
          California Coastal Commission
          45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000
          San Francisco, CA 94105.

The current WHALE TAIL license plate may be purchased through