Student Essay Contest Focuses on Gulf of Maine

Now in its second year, the Ocean Awareness Essay Contest is sponsored by the creator of From the Bow Seat, a 64-minute environmental documentary about issues confronting the Gulf of Maine. Both the essay contest and the film challenge high school students to explore real-world threats to the marine life of the Gulf of Maine.

The rewards are more than just learning about marine life and issues. Winning essays can earn students $2,500 for First Prize, $1,500 for Second Place, and $500 for Third Place. Fifteen Honorable Mentions will also be awarded.

One student may also win a chance to actually “meet” one of the subjects of the essay contest—the North Atlantic right whale.

The Fundy Marine Science Institute, which has recently partnered with From the Bow Seat filmmaker Linda Cabot, has announced that it is donating a week at Whale Camp—a $1,500 value—to one of the students whose essay receives a cash prize or honorable mention. All 18 winners will be entered into a lottery for a scholarship to Whale Camp in the summer of 2014.

Located on Grand Manan Island, Whale Camp is held between Maine and Nova Scotia in the Bay of Fundy, where the highest tides in the world create a rich and diverse marine ecosystem. This is the summer feeding grounds of humpbacks, minkes, finbacks, and the rarest great whales, the right whale. Whale Camp participants help collect data to document whale distribution, feeding, and other behavior.

Students spend at least 3 days each week aboard a 65’ sailboat, where they are all but guaranteed to encounter whales (98% success rate over 28 years), as well as seals, porpoises, sea birds, and other marine life. Only Whale Camp takes students to the highly restricted Machias Seal Island, where they can encounter hundreds of rare puffins, razorbills, and murres. They will explore beaches, tidepools, bogs, coastal trails, and fishing villages for an amazing marine experience both on land and at sea.

Students do not have to live in the New England region to enter the essay contest. Contest information and essay questions can be found by  here.  Additional opportunities for teachers and schools to win are listed here.

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