More than 5,000 Los Angeles students, teachers and volunteers participated in the 19th annual Kids Ocean Day Adopt-A-Beach Clean-Up at Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey June 7.

As part of the event, the participants formed a massive student-designed shark and shield on the beach that read “Defend the Sea.”

The morning’s activities began with a program kick-off involving several city officials and environmental advocates.

Show Biz Kidz and Eco-Hero Kids also sang an environmental song and students proceeded to picking up trash on the beach before forming the human mosaic.

Kids Ocean Day in Los Angeles is the culmination of a year-round school assembly program by the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education to teach children and young adults about the adverse impacts of pollution on the ocean.

“Our program is about raising awareness to facilitate behavioral change. Throughout the year, we taught the students that beneath the surface of the ocean, animals are eating plastic and getting tangled in nets and six-pack rings,” said Michael Klubock, the foundation’s founder and executive director.

In attendance at the event was Los Angeles Board of Public Works President Andrea Alarcon.

“As the second largest city in America, Los Angeles plays a key role in defining our environmental priorities as a nation,” said Alarcon. “As we see here on Kids Ocean Day, Los Angeles youngsters care greatly about the ocean which is one of our greatest assets as a coastal city.”

Mary Shallenberger, chair of the California Coastal Commission, added, “These kids are like modern-day knights in shining armor. They are asking us to join them in defending our ocean from marine debris and other forms of pollution that harm marine life.

“I’m so proud of them that they took this day to go forward into battle with everyday trash to keep it out of the sea. It makes me optimistic that these young people will continue to keep our coast and ocean clean.”

The beach message will be conveyed to a global audience later this month when Spectral Q, the Plastic Pollution Coalition, and Natural Resources Defense Council coordinate delivery of the aerial art photograph to the Rio + 20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where plastic pollution is on the international agenda.

The Los Angeles celebration of Kids Ocean Day was one of six in the state of California, sponsored by the Coastal Commission. More than 8,500 students participated in Kids Ocean Day statewide, according to an event organizer.