ORVALLIS, Ore. – Sixteen teams from Oregon high schools will test their knowledge of marine sciences on Saturday, Feb. 9, during the annual Salmon Bowl competition at Oregon State University.

Interest in the Salmon Bowl, which is sponsored by OSU’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, is growing each year, according to Pete Strutton, a faculty member in the college and adviser for the event.

“Global climate change has really made the public – and students of all ages – look at the world’s oceans in a new, more comprehensive way,” Strutton said. “We’ve seen first-hand some of the impacts of climate change along the West Coast, including low-oxygen ‘hypoxia’ zones, harmful algal blooms, declining fish stocks and unpredictable weather patterns.

“The Salmon Bowl is a fun way to encourage student interest in the marine sciences, and to get students to think about what may happen in the future,” he added.

The winning team will earn a trip to the national competition this April 25-28 in Alaska. About 100 volunteers, including faculty, staff and students in the OSU College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, will help host the event.

The public is invited to watch the Salmon Bowl, held on the OSU campus from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Burt Hall, Wilkinson Hall, and the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences (COAS) administrative building. All three facilities are located roughly at 26th Street and Monroe in Corvallis. Admission is free.

This statewide competition is part of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, which aims to develop the next generation of marine scientists, policy makers, educators, explorers, researchers and advocates. It is organized by the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education, a group of 85 universities and aquaria, including OSU. More information is available at http://www.nosb.org/.

Neah-Kah-Nie High School, which has won the Salmon Bowl six times – including the past two years – will return to defend its title.

Competing teams will tackle questions about the global carbon cycle, phytoplankton, ocean currents, tsunamis, undersea earthquakes, fisheries and climate change – to name just a few, according to Eleanor Hodak, a graduate student in COAS and one of the coordinators of the event.

Care to test your own knowledge? Did you know that green sea turtles are not actually green in color? So why are they called what they are? Is it because A) In their preferred habitat, refracted light makes them look green; B) Fat deposits inside them are green; C) they were first identified by biologist Jacob Green; or D) they feed primarily on green algae.

Here’s another sample question: Corals are most closely related to which of the following? A) Barnacles; B) Sea Anemones; C) Clams; or D) Sea Urchins.

And finally: Why are penguins never taken as prey by polar bears?

"That’s an easy one,” said Abby Nickels, a COAS graduate student and event coordinator. “Polar bears are an Arctic species and penguins live in the southern hemisphere. But most of the questions the high school students will tackle are very difficult – and what’s exciting is that many of them are based on the research that faculty and students are doing right here at Oregon State University.”

Competing teams include the Oregon Coast Aquarium (a team from Newport-area high schools), Astoria High School (two teams), Benson Polytechnic High School (two teams), Clatskanie High School, Crescent Valley High School, Grant High School (two teams), Hidden Valley High School (two teams), Lebanon High School, McMinnville High School, Neah-Kah-Nie High School (two teams) and Seaside High School.

To satisfy your curiosity: Green sea turtles are called that because of their fat deposits and corals are most closely related to sea anemones.

For more information on OSU's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, visit the college website.

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Pete Strutton,