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Calling All Kids: Make a Flag for the Oceans


National Geographic Kids has partnered up with some of the world’s best-known marine explorers on a contest to design the official flag for the next Ocean Now expedition. Robert Ballard, Sylvia Earle, Enric Sala, David de Rothschild, and Nancy Knowlton will judge flag submissions from children and teens ages 8 to 14.

The judges will select the top ten designs, and kids will then vote online for the winning flag, which will fly above the National Geographic research ship throughout the expedition. The winner will receive a patch with his or her flag design, plus books and DVDs from the Geographic. (And some serious bragging rights!)

“As we continue our expeditions in 2010,” says lead Ocean Now explorer, conservationist, and marine biologist Enric Sala, “we hope to engage children in the dialogue about conservation and inspire them to enjoy and care for the ocean. We need everyone’s help, but children are especially important. The future of the ocean depends on their involvement now and throughout their lives.”

Ocean Now is National Geographic’s exploration, research, and conservation project to find, survey, and help protect the last healthy, undisturbed places in the ocean. By studying how marine ecosystems work without human interference, we can learn how to help healthy reefs thrive, help unhealthy reefs recover, and better preserve the ocean, which covers more than two-thirds of our planet.

The Ocean Now team is working with local marine scientists and conservation organizations to document these precious aquatic ecosystems. The data, we hope, will help establish new scientific baselines for intact—and critically important—environments. Learn more on the Ocean Now website.

To enter the Ocean Flag Contest, kids must create a design for a flag on plain paper up to 8½ by 11 inches in size. The design must represent ocean exploration and the protection of ocean ecosystems. Entrants must also write an essay, not exceeding 250 words, describing what inspired their design. Only legal residents of the United States (excluding residents of Puerto Rico) who were 8 to 14 years of age on November 1, 2009 may enter the contest. Entries must be postmarked by Feb. 20, 2010.

Get complete rules and details here, and get design ideas from National Geographic Kids here!

Photograph by Ford Cochran