A Glimpse of Life in the Deep Sea: Announcing the Winners of the 2024 Science Without Borders® Challenge


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ANNAPOLIS, MD — The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2024 Science Without Borders® Challenge, an international student art contest that promotes ocean conservation. This year’s theme, “Hidden Wonders of the Deep,” inspired over 1,700 young artists from 82 countries around the world to use their artistic talents to portray the beauty and wonder of life in the deep sea.

The competition, open to primary and secondary school students 11-19 years old, received an overwhelming response this year. More students entered the Science Without Borders® Challenge than ever before, sending in beautiful artwork illustrating the vast array of life adapted to live in the deepest parts of our ocean. The winning artwork offers a glimpse of life in the deep sea, from the mesmerizing appeal of an anglerfish’s glowing lure to the bounty of a whalefall to the explosion of life surrounding hydrothermal events. Artwork in the competition was judged in two categories based on age. The winning entries in each age group are not only beautiful pieces of artwork, but they encourage viewers to appreciate the spectacular diversity of life deep beneath the waves.

First Place (15-19): “Worlds Emerging” by Eva Park, Age 17, United States of America

In the 15-19 age group, the first-place winner in the 2024 Science Without Borders® Challenge is Eva Park, with her stunning artwork, Worlds Emerging. A 17-year-old student from Studio City, California, Eva’s captivating piece depicts an oarfish emerging from the darkness of the deep sea. Through the contrast of darkness and light, Eva captures a sense of wonder in discovering the hidden world of deep sea creatures. Reflecting on her win, Eva stated, “Winning this competition means a lot to me. It’s inspired me to keep pursuing my passion for marine science and get involved with more conservation efforts.”

Eva said she made this artwork “not only to explore what the ocean means to me, but also with the hopes that it may inspire others to become interested in the deep sea.” Eva wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up, and it was the deep sea that first captured her attention. She hopes people see her artwork and feel the same spark of curiosity and mystery that drew her into marine science.

Second place in the category for 15-19-year-old students went to Nadia Cho from Las Vegas, Nevada, for her artwork Under the Sea. Nadia’s artwork focuses on the intricate ecosystem around hydrothermal vents, showcasing the importance of tubeworms and their symbiotic relationship with chemosynthetic bacteria. Her piece highlights the unique beauty of this ecosystem and draws parallels to coral reefs, emphasizing how tubeworms, like corals, provide protection and habitat for many organisms. Jiayi (Jenny) Xu from Fort Lee, New Jersey, claimed the third-place spot with Look into the Light. Jenny’s painting offers an ominous yet captivating glimpse into the life of an anglerfish and its prey in the abyssopelagic zone. Her artwork portrays the allure and danger of the deep sea, incorporating elements of bioluminescence and newly discovered species.            

First Place (11-4): “Wonders of the Twilight Zone” by Claire Kim, Age 12, Canada

In the 11-14 age group, Claire Kim, a 12-year-old student from Canada, emerged as the first-place winner for her artwork titled Wonders of the Twilight Zone. Claire’s piece offers a mesmerizing journey into the depths of the ocean, capturing the essence of the deep sea as a magical world full of vibrant colors and enchanting creatures, challenging common perceptions, and revealing the hidden beauty of the twilight zone. Speaking about her win, Claire expressed her gratitude, stating, “Winning this art contest is a great achievement in my life, and I will definitely be entering the contest again next year.”

At only 11 years old, Cheong Wong from China took home second place in the younger age group for his piece, Don’t Follow the Light, which portrays an anglerfish using its glowing lure to capture prey. Meanwhile, 14-year-old Felicia Fang, also from China, won third place for her artwork, Praying, which illustrates a variety of deep sea creatures feasting on a whalefall.                                    

Each of the winners will receive scholarships of up to $500 from the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation to celebrate their achievements and help them pursue their interests in art and ocean conservation.

The entries were of such exceptional quality this year that the judges added a new category, recognizing three pieces of artwork as honorable mentions. These entries all focus on deep-sea exploration, emphasizing the ongoing exploration of these intriguing environments and the discoveries of the hidden wonders yet to come. The honorable mentions were awarded to 14-year-old Chloe Jeong from the U.S. for her portrayal of a submersible pilot in Discovering the Undiscovered, 17-year-old Zoe Cheng from Taiwan for Glowing Allure from the Deep, and Sarah Peng, a 16-year-old artist from Canada for her piece showcasing the beauty of bioluminescent creatures, titled Nature’s Wonderland.

Through this competition, the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation hopes to educate students worldwide about the need to protect our ocean and inspire the next generation of ocean advocates. Amy Heemsoth, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Education at the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, expressed her admiration for the winners and participants, saying, “These young artists have not only demonstrated exceptional talent but also a deep understanding of the importance of conserving the diversity of life in the ocean. Their artwork serves as a powerful reminder of our responsibility to protect and conserve our oceans for future generations.”

The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation extends its heartfelt congratulations to all the winners and participants of the 2024 Science Without Borders® Challenge, and thanks them for using their creativity and passion to inspire positive change for our oceans.  For more information about the Science Without Borders® Challenge and the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, please visit www.LOF.org.


1st Place "Worlds Emerging" by Eva Park, Age 17, United States of America

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Artist's Statement: The deep sea holds a plethora of mysteries, many of which are haunting and horrifying. Yet, it sparks fascination with its endless opportunity for discovery. The oarfish emerging from the dark represents the discoveries we have already made, and the siphonophore looms as a reminder of the otherworldliness often found in deep sea creatures. The darkness that shrouds both suggest that there is still much to uncover however. The darkness is not an indicator of lifelessness but is pregnant with possibilities. This feeling of mystery but intrigue is further emphasized by the vast biodiversity hidden in the dark, such as the chimaera shark, atolla jellies, schools of lantern fish, hadal snailfish, and the whale remains glinting in the background. Finally, the single light source coming from the viewer's perspective shows the startle and wonder one might feel in discovering and witnessing such creatures swimming by in the dark depths.

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