Manatee Bowl attracts students with interest in marine science

By Barbara Gonzalez….

Cramming before the finals are members of the Marine and Ocean Academy (MOA) team that took first place: Justice Smith, Tommy Yanapoulous, Sam Jones-Bankston, Coral Levy and Joshua Hackett (captain).

More than 100 high school students with a strong interest in marine science and their teachers representing the east coast of Florida converged on Virginia Key, Feb. 6, for the 14th annual Manatee Bowl.Man

Early rounds of competition took place at Miami-Dade Public Schools’ MAST Academy, and final rounds were conducted on the campus of the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. After 10 rounds of competition, the Marine and Oceanographic Academy (MOA) took first place, following a hard-fought battle with contestants from MAST Academy.

MOA, a part of the St. Lucie County School District, is located on the campus of Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Fort Pierce. It only has competed in the Manatee Bowl since the school was established four years ago.

Coached by Scott McMillen, the team composed of Joshua Hackett (captain), Sam “Turtle” Jones-Bankston, Coral Levy, Tommy Yanapoulous and Justice Smith went undefeated throughout the day of competition.

Two separate teams coached by Mark Tolhulka from MAST Academy took second and third places.

This year marked the entry of four new schools into the competition: Archimedean Academy, Immaculata-La Salle High School and Gulliver Schools from Miami, and Viera High School from Viera. Additional teams competing in the Manatee Bowl included Miami Beach High, Palmetto High, South Broward High and St. Lucie West Centennial High. Archimedean Academy’s young team walked away with the award for sportsmanship for their enthusiasm and tenacity.

Local sponsors for the event were Florida Sea Grant College Program, Florida Marine Science Educators Association, National Marine Educators Association, Museum of Discovery and Science (Fort Lauderdale), International Game Fish Association and Hall of Fame, Miami Seaquarium, New World Publications and the National Geographic Society.

The team from MOA will compete against 24 other regional champions in the 14th annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) Apr. 29-May 1 at Texas A&M University in Galveston.  For more information, visit online at

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About the Author

Barbra Gonzalez
Barbra Gonzalez is the communications director for the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, which co-hosted the Manatee Bowl with MAST Academy.

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