We Have a Winner!

Hundreds of kids around the U.S. sent in beautiful designs in the Nautilus Patch Contest. Late last week, National Geographic Explorer Robert Ballard and NG Emerging Explorer Katherine Croff Bell chose the design that will be made into a patch for the crew aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus. (Follow the expedition. Go to Nautilus Live. )

Congratulations to Madeleine Gates, 13 years old from San Diego, California, whose winning patch design can be seen above. Read her essay:

"I live very close to the beach, so it's surprising to realize how little I know about the ocean. I can look out to the horizon and see the water far, far away, but I don't know what's miles and miles below. Even close to shore, there are creatures you don't know exist, until you explore. A few summers ago, I went snorkeling. I had no idea how many beautiful fish and sea creatures lived right beneath me! It was amazing. I would like to explore the oceans right where I live to discover more about the creatures that live beneath the ocean's surface.  There's a whole world at the bottom of the ocean, hidden, and I would like to uncover it."

Madeleine's design will be made into a patch that will be worn by the crew of the Nautilus during their mission to explore ancient shipwrecks, underwater volcanoes, submarine canyons, and undersea mountains in the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea. The explorers on the Nautilus will use robotic vehicles to study these areas and the critters and share what they learn with scientists and students all over the world in real time. Madeleine will also receive several National Geographic Children's books titles.

See 2011's winning design.

What do you love about the ocean?