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Kids get together to save our seas

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The quarters clink in the jar, and cookies fly off the table at Huff Elementary School in Redwood City, Calif. Laura Mabbott's fifth-graders are having a bake sale to protect a coral reef thousands of miles away. "If reefs 3,000 miles away die out," says student Nina Maksimova, "we are wounded."

The John Gray Recyclers are busy, too. These high school students live in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean. They've collected small mountains of trash from island beaches, organized recycling programs, written songs about the ocean, and raised money to save the endangered Cayman blue iguana. "I feel my generation is the conserving generation," says high-schooler Cathrine Welds in an e-mail.

An ocean away on the Pacific island of Guam, students are just as committed. The Marine Mania Club at George Washington High School is organizing its own beach cleanup. The "Maniacs" also monitor sea-turtle nests, plant trees to keep soil from washing over reefs, and collect "ghost" fishing nets lost by fishermen. The lost nets can entangle and kill turtles, fish, and dolphins.

"Being in Marine Mania is a way for me to give back to the environment," says Felix Santiago via e-mail. "When we work together" adds fellow student Joseph Barrett, "it no longer seems like work."

Earth Day is also Ocean Day

Ms. Mabbott's fifth-graders, the John Gray Recyclers, and the Marine Maniacs are just a few of the kids worldwide who will celebrate this Earth Day (April 22) as "Dive In To Earth Day."

Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 to remind people to care for the environment. "But most Earth Day events take place on land," says Brian Huse, director of the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) in San Francisco. Dive In To Earth Day began in 2000 "to ensure that the 70 percent of the earth that is covered by water is not forgotten."

Since 2000, some 1,000 Dive In To Earth Day events have been held in 89 countries. Students, dive clubs, aquariums, and conservation groups organize fish surveys, underwater cleanups, art contests, and more. The day reminds people how much we depend on oceans and how much they need protection.

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