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NOAA Awards Cabrillo Aquarium

Sun dances on the ripples of the ocean waves as they rhythmically caress the shoreline. Sea gulls fly and dip in the clear air. Then the eye lowers to the wet sand.

On a typical day, beer cans would probably mar the smooth surface. Paper trash would be scattered as far as the eye could see. Perhaps, further along the beach, one would see a discarded tire. It's the flotsam and jetsam of civilization.

But on Saturday, Sept. 19, the coastal beaches were pristine, scoured by a small army of volunteers, on Coastal Cleanup Day. In conjunction with that event, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration kicked off its "Ocean Ambassador" program at Santa Monica pier.

This year is the International and National Year of the Ocean, the perfect impetus for a program to encourage young people to become involved in learning about and helping the ocean environment.

Members of the Cabrillo High School Aquarium Club were the only secondary school group nationwide invited to be a part of the kick-off. Students from Rossmore Elementary School in Los Alamitos represented younger students. Together, they were the first youth in the nation to take the Ocean Ambassador pledge.

"We were very pleased to have them take part," said Lori Arguelles, director of Public and Constituent Affairs for NOAA. "The Cabrillo Aquarium received NOAA's Environmental Hero award earlier this year. They have a fantastic program there."