Co-authored by Jared Chen

This poem is a winner of the International Bowseat Ocean Awareness Contest, receiving around 1,700 submissions from around the globe.

Bow Seat created the Ocean Awareness Contest in 2012 to teach teenagers about issues facing our local waterways and global ocean and to empower them to speak up for these places and create positive change for our planet. Each year the contest invites students to explore how human actions impact ocean health – with a focus on our roles as both problem-makers and problem-solvers – through the creative arts.

Since its launch, the contest has engaged nearly 10,000 teens from 78 countries and all 50 U.S. states, and Bow Seat has awarded nearly $290,000 in scholarships to help advance their creative talents, passion for the environment, and advocacy skills.

Click here to read the full entry on Bowseat's website.

i. australia

the explosion of carmine, salmon, and chartreuse

lost with the pass of time

from weaving green to jarring white

royal amethyst to bone,

the systematic plague of blistering heat

scorch the dancing polyps

expelled arrays of algae taint the ocean blue

never to return back to former glory

lost to the oppressor, fish swim aimlessly

homes forever destroyed, bleached to the core

forever changed

ii. canada

changes of scenery, white to blue

the ice kingdom falls to the northern sea

polar bears lost to the eternal abyss

nowhere to go they stay, stagnate

clawing, thrashing they call for food

only to be met by unforgiving waves

hungry children silently awaiting a meal

never to come

years shaved off

thousands perish into nothing

a species, gone

warm waters, a demon in disguise

iii. japan

invaders from the deep, pulsing with life,

replace absent nets of fish with gelatinous beings

heaps of jellyfish strangled in the wake of fishing boats,

warning signs of warming temperatures

kilos of natives killed with electrified swords

the wakasa bay lies awake

intruders following the kuroshio current

pillage the homes of others; the impending doom of foreigners

lost without a home to return

cripple the population

a loss of diversity

iv. california, united states

deadly change to the eyes of all

cut down scores of life

the invisible killer, surrounding all

shells of animals, gone

predator detection, gone

essential organisms, gone

strike all, none left behind

the targets, too slow to react

v. east oman

sickening, suffocating, spreading

patches on the gulf as big as mexico

swarm with green and red tides, notorious dead zones

sunlight, blocked; oxygen, depleted

blistering lungs, choked gills

climb up the food chain

from shellfish, domoic acid claws

to sharks, whales, the brains of birds

the human skull the final target

forgotten to the numerous changes,

begone the precious things of the sea.


Authors note: The title "J'accuse" uses the first letter of each of the regions visited to spell out the iconic French word, J' ACCUSE, used by writer, Emile Zola. Thus, we accuse the public for not addressing these pressing issues with full effort.