The story is about two children, Kai and Morgan, who are on a beach side holiday with their parents. They befriend Botley, an animated plastic bottle who teaches them a lot about plastic in the oceans. The three of them come across two dolphins, Dilan and Dash, one of whom is entangled in a large piece of fishing net.
“. . . one dolphin had a large piece of fishing net caught on its beak and dorsal fin. The other dolphin said, “I’m Dilan and this is my friend Dash. Because of the fishing net, Dash can’t catch fish, so she is very hungry. We need to get the net off of her; otherwise she will starve to death!” “
Kai contacts an animal rescue centre to help the entangled dolphin. Thus the children and Botley meet the rescuers and the super submersible Spirit. They are invited aboard Spirit to go on a journey to learn more about plastic in the oceans and to witness more cases of plastic entanglement.
They also travel to Midway Atoll in the Hawaiian Archipelego to visit the Laysan Albatross there and the tragedy of plastic ingestion. Then Spirit takes them into the North Pacific Gyre to see the density of plastic that has accumulated there.
As they travel from place to place, they learn about the importance of our oceans, what happens to plastic in the oceans, and how all the plastic that is created stays in the environment virtually forever.
Just before their adventure comes to an end, they are greeted by Dilan and Dash who bring along many of their friends – other dolphins, whales, turtles, fish, and seabirds.
The dolphins tell the children how hard it is to survive because of all the plastic debris that is now in their ocean home. And they ask the children to help – to be become champions for the oceans.
Kai and Morgan return home and raise awareness about plastic in the oceans in their school and community. They form a student group at their school, called ‘SCOOP’ – Student Champions for Our Oceans Protection’. They and the group inspire and initiate several positive actions at their school and, by working with members of their community, in their community, to help to increase recycling and reduce the use of plastic and thus, the amount going into our oceans. In doing so, they become true ocean champions.
The book includes an addendum, which contains more information about plastic and our oceans, as well as ways to reduce our use of plastic, giving the reader immediate actions to start helping. It also includes ways to effect bigger change, with examples of student projects, many of which are also appropriate for adults. These lists have been compiled in consultation with several organizations and individuals and extended versions are also available on this website under TAKE ACTION.
In the process of developing the story, I received professional input from several people:
Janet Hoag, the primary school coordinator on Salt Spring Island, B.C., where I live, who set up classroom readings with students from Kindergarten to Grade 4, and provided extensive support and advice in many other ways.
Kate Le Soeuf and the rest of the education staff at the Vancouver Aquarium, and Katie Allen and Charles Moore at Algalita Marine Research Foundation all provided valuable feedback and advise.
Max Liboiron, an assistant professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland provided a social sciences perspective towards tackling plastic in the oceans.
Many other teachers and individuals.
As a life-long artist and naturalist, it is safe for me to say that this book about a journey into seas of plastic is an excellent work. The illustrations are clear and lively, and the story is forceful and focused. Moreover, the message is vitally important as a cautionary tale for all ages from careless kids to thoughtless industrialists … prevention is better than cleanup.
Robert Bateman, Canadian Artist and Naturalist
This book is a must read for today’s action-minded students. By showing the dark side of plastic pollution in the oceans, and then identifying solutions that we can all adopt, it provides a practical and positive story that empowers us to protect ocean life.
Dr. Peter S. Ross, Vice President of Research at Ocean Wise Conservation Association and Executive Director of its Coastal Ocean Research Institute
Ocean Champions takes a deep dive into the sources of marine plastic pollution, the causes and tragic effects. It also encourages students to actively engage in solutions and inspire their peers to take action to stop the global health crisis of plastic pollution.
The 5 Gyres Institute
I heartily endorse this important book!
Captain Charles Moore, Founder and Research Director of Algalita Marine Research and Education; discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 1997
Teacher Endorsements in Canada:
The Oceans Champions story is a valuable learning tool for elementary school students as it teaches them about their relationship with the oceans as part of their natural environment. Reading and discussing the story contributes to the development of social responsibility, communication, and critical thinking. Related individual or group actions further enable advancement of these skills.
Janet Hoag, Coordinator K-5, SD 64 Gulf Islands, Salt Spring Island, BC
Michelle spend most of a day at our school reading Ocean Champions and engaging the students in thoughtful and important conversations. One of the wonderful things about her story is that it can be tailored and read to students as young as five years old while still being interesting and engaging to the intermediate students in our school. I had great feedback from the students and the several copies of her book that we purchased for our library keep flying off the shelf. The message in Ocean Champions is crucial and empowers kids to feel like they can be part of change in our world. I think every school library needs this book.
Myriam Dumont, Teacher-Librarian, Cleveland Elementary, North Vancouver, BC
I appreciate the depth of research that Michelle Mech has done for Ocean Champions: A Journey into Seas of Plastic and how much information is available in an accessible way for young learners. Teachers will find many opportunities in this book to connect with curriculum, to encourage student reflection on our impact on the oceans, and to inspire students to take action to bring about change.
Julie Hunt, Teacher-librarian, West Bay/Westcot Elementary Schools, West Vancouver. BC
I had Michelle Mech visit the grades 2-4 at Taylor Park Elementary in Burnaby. The information in Ocean Champions really opened my eyes. The children were absolutely engaged and couldn’t stop putting up their hands to ask questions and make connections. Michelle was great in reading her story, adding personal asides and information, and answering questions. The children didn’t want to leave. The teachers were also very interested. This book would be a great starting off point for an inquiry project or a student leadership project and I strongly recommend it.
Diana Zimmerschied, Teacher-Librarian at Taylor Park Elementary School, Burnaby, BC
When I ask my students how many Oceans there are, their responses are typical as they begin to name all of the bodies of water they can think of. I then put my finger on a map of the world and show them that I can trace a path around the world without lifting my finger from the map. This leads to the “AHA” that there is really only one large ocean and that what happens on the other side of the planet can (and will) impact what happens on their side of the planet. To further their knowledge and understanding Michelle Mech’s book Ocean Champions is an excellent resource written in a way that is easy for the students to understand and the maps and illustrations are particularly memorable. I do not hesitate to recommend the book as a resource that students and teachers alike will find informative and inspiring.
Vicky Milner, Teacher-Librarian, Brooksbank Elementary, North Vancouver, BC
Ocean Champion’s message about single use plastic is really powerful and it’s something our school communities need to know about.
Elly Weber, Teacher-Librarian, Doncaster Elementary School/Quadra Elementary Schools, Victoria, BC
Our school benefited tremendously from the author reading by Michelle Mech who introduced her book Ocean Champions: A Journey into Seas of Plastic. Students were extremely engaged, many raised hands to ask questions during and after the reading; they did not want the session to end. The book educates students and teachers on the increasing presence of plastics in our oceans and the effects on sea life and empowers students to take action. I highly recommend this book for elementary age children.
Maria McAllister, Teacher-Librarian, Ecole Ross Road School, North Vancouver, BC
Marine animals entangled in, or ingesting, plastic debris: