From the left, Addy Mallott, Tias Carney, Elin Antaya, Adrian Whitney and Jack Schwarting, who make up Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s National Ocean Sciences Bowl, the Locolithophores, won the Tsunami Bowl, Alaska’s regional NOSB competition, held this year in Seward, in order to advance to the national finals in May. (Courtesy photo / Debbie Lowenthal)

From the left, Addy Mallott, Tias Carney, Elin Antaya, Adrian Whitney and Jack Schwarting, who make up Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s National Ocean Sciences Bowl, the Locolithophores, won the Tsunami Bowl, Alaska’s regional NOSB competition, held this year in Seward, in order to advance to the national finals in May. (Courtesy photo / Debbie Lowenthal)

Juneau team washes away regional oceanography quiz bowl

Juneau was the last team in the water of the thirteen teams who came to play.

Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé’s National Ocean Sciences Bowl team, the Locolithophores, dragged their opponents into the crushing depths as they washed away 12 other teams to win the Alaska regional round.

The team will advance to the national championship in May against other teams from the rest of the country’s inland and ocean coasts.

“Marine sciences is a really broad field. NOSB is a really fun activity if you’re into academics or learning about the ocean,” said team captain Tias Carney in a phone interview. “We always appreciate more people. We had a lot of kids on our team this year- we had A, B and C teams.”

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The competition, hosted in Seward this year, returned to an in-person model, Carney said. The team this year had about 15 kids, said Shelby Surdyk, JDHS’ oceanography teacher and one of the co-coaches of the team. The team’s name, the Locolithophores, is a pun on Coccolithophores, a kind of phytoplankton, that the students came up with, Surdyk said.

“There is huge value in having in-person events, and I am grateful for the strict COVID mitigation protocols that UAF and JDHS set in place to make the event possible,” Surdyk said in an email. “In Seward, students had a chance to tour the Seward Sealife Center and participate in a really cool (Alaska Vocational Technical Center) Maritime Simulation.”

The oceans are both vast and deep, source of all life on our planet and covering nearly three-quarters of the surface of the Earth. The subjects students have to be briefed on are equally broad, Surdyk said, including chemical oceanography, physical oceanography, marine biology, geology, engineering, maritime policy and history. Students pick sections to specialize in according to preference, Carney said.

“I love the physical oceanography- waves, current, tides. I mainly specialize in that,” Carney said. “One team member, Elin Antaya, specializes in biology. She also was our head research coordinator.”

The competition itself was brisk, Carney said, with a hard-fought last round.

“The final round was very low scoring. The questions were very challenging. Most early rounds, I feel like if we got them wrong we had the right idea,” Carney said. “There was a lot of random facts. There was a few social science ones. There were a couple on currents I definitely should have got.”

Carney said both a family connection and an interest in the ocean he may continue in college with led him to NOSB.

“My dad was a former coach for around ten years,” Carney said. “I always hoped I could do it in high school.”

This year’s competition also marked an important milestone for the NOSB here in Alaska, Surdyk said.

“This year was the 25th anniversary of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, and I believe that JDHS has participated in every Alaska Tsunami Bowl since the start,” Surdyk said.

The NOSB Finals will be held digitally May 6-15, according to their website.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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