About the Blue Crab Bowl

The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB®) was launched in 1998 — the International Year of the Ocean — by the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education. Managed by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership since 2007, NOSB continues its important objectives in creating an ocean-literate society. NOSB serves to generate student interest and excitement about science and the oceans, and provides a venue for students to excel and earn regional and national recognition. Additionally, it gives young people a chance to examine marine science as a field of study and possible career path. Nation-wide, there are now 25 competition regions. A variety of prizes for students and coaches are awarded at both the regional and national bowls.

The Blue Crab Bowl (BCB) was among the inaugural NOSB contests in 1998 and is looking forward to its 21st year of competition in 2018! Up to sixteen Virginia teams will meet February 2 & 3, at Old Dominion University's Higher Education Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The Regional Coordinators are pleased to announce a successful competition involving 15 teams

The winners of the Blue Crab Bowl will represent Virginia in the NOSB national finals in Boulder, Colorado, April 19-22, 2018.

Institutions responsible for the Blue Crab Bowl’s success include Old Dominion University (ODU) and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). Financial support comes from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and other institutions and agencies.  More information about our sponsors is under the Sponsors tab on this page.

How does the competition work?
Designed to inspire and challenge high school students, the Blue Crab Bowl tests competitors' knowledge of the marine sciences. Each match pits two teams of four students in an academic quiz-bowl format. Competitors use a buzzer system to respond to rapid-fire multiple choice and short answer questions read by a Moderator. And, teams work collectively to produce written answers to complex analytical questions. Points are earned from three types of questions: toss-up questions, worth four points; bonus questions, worth 6 points; and team challenge questions, worth up to 20 points.

Each contest is managed by a team of Match Officials drawn from the professional staffs of ODU, VIMS and affiliate institutions. The Chief Rules Judge and Chief Science Judge handle challenges if they arise; specialists grade the answers to written questions. Judges' rulings on answer acceptability are final.

Up to sixteen teams compete in round-robin matches by division, then the top four teams are determined during an elimination tournaments in the afternoon. For full details, see Game in a Crab Shell and the NOSB official rules. And, check out our video with interviews of past participants.

Who else can attend?  Spectator Guidelines
While classmates, teachers and parents are encouraged to support their school team, there are space limitations in some competition venues and activities*. Space permitting, spectators are welcome in competition rooms, but Blue Crab Bowl guidelines apply and spectators may not…

  • enter or leave a room during a match;
  • take pictures, notes or audio recordings in competition rooms;
  • communicate with contestants during matches;
  • use cell phones or other electronic messaging devices; or
  • talk in the halls outside competition rooms during matches.
Please respect the integrity of the competition and the considerable effort made by all teams and officials in preparing for this event.

See the NOSB rules for further details on competing teams and supporters in attendance at official bowl events.

*Note that the BCB field trip on Friday is an award designed for the competing teams, in recognition of their efforts in preparing for competition.  Additional supporters may attend on a space-available basis and will be responsible for any fees associated with activities.


Blue Crab Bowl is proud to celebrate to its 21st annual competition as the Virginia Regional competition of the NOSB.  From 1998 through 2017, more than 325 teams have competed — bringing together over 1,620 students and dozens of coaches from 53 different high schools and educational institutions from all corners of Virginia.

Visit our archives for lists of past competitors and each year's winning team.

Who was involved in 2017?  Check out the event program.

Archives: winners 1998 to present.

Where are you now?
The Blue Crab Bowl and NOSB would like to know if students who have participated in past bowl competitions have benefited from the experience, gone on to higher education or careers in ocean sciences. Just send us a note!

If you participated in a past Blue Crab Bowl, let us know what you're up to now. If you spot the name or a photo of a classmate, former student or child in our archive files, let them know we'd like to reconnect with them!

The Blue Crab Bowl wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of national, regional and local sponsors. Donations support the planning and implementation of the competition, as well as event awards for participating teams.

Want to help support this exciting science event? 
Please, contact the Blue Crab Bowl Coordinators.  We can use:

  • financial donations
  • services and products for event operations
  • services and products for participant prizes
  • volunteers

Sponsors and supporters are acknowledged on the event program, in press releases to Virginia media, and on our Bowl website.

In 2017, the following institutions, organizations and businesses contributed operational support or prizes for the Blue Crab Bowl.

NOSB Sponsors
  • National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Office of Naval Research
  • Schwab Charitable Fund made possible by the generosity of Wendy & Eric Schmidt
  • Deerbrook Charitable Trust
  • Bureau of Safety and Environmental  Enforcement (BSEE)
  • National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)
  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)
  • Eastman
  • Shell Oil Company
  • Lockheed Martin

  • The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, National Ocean Sciences Bowl
  • Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary
  • Old Dominion University’s Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
  • VIMS Marine Advisory Service
  • Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association
  • National Marine Educators Association
  • Leave Only Bubbles Marine Science Curriculum Supplies


All Teams
VIMS Laboratory tour - Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Outreach & Advancement
Blue Crab Logo sweatshirts, Logo lapel pins & Smartphone wallet - Consortium for Ocean Leadership

All Coaches
Blue Crab Bowl logo sweatshirts & Smartphone wallet - Consortium for Ocean Leadership

Custom blue crab ceramic mug, "The World Is Blue" by Sylvia Earle, & 1-year membership, Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association (MAMEA) - Virginia Institute of Marine Science

2017 Sand Calendar - Marine Advisory Services-Education, VIMS

New Coaches
1-year membership, Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association - Mid Atlantic Marine Education Association

1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th Place Teams
Custom design Crab Bowl Team Trophies and Custom Crab Competitors’ Mugs - Virginia Institute of Marine Science

1st Place Team
Invitation to NOSB competition in Corvallis, OR, April 20-23, 2017 and selected travel expenses - Consortium for Ocean Leadership

1st Place Coach
Complementary registration for 2017 Fall Conference of the Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association - Mid-Atlantic Marine Education Association

1-year membership in the National Marine Educators Association - National Marine Educators Association

Additional support graciously provided by:

  • Old Dominion University: College of Sciences; Dept. of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Science
  • Virginia Institute of Marine Science Marine Advisory Services Program
  • Comfort Suites - Airport, Newport News
  • Pizza Hut, Gloucester Point

FAST Facts

ODU's Higher Education Center
Virginia Beach, VA
Feb 2-3, 2018

National Ocean Sciences Bowl Finals Competition in Boulder, CO
Apr 19-22, 2018