GCOOS is the Gulf of Mexico regional component of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). Our mission is to provide timely, reliable and accurate information on the open and coastal ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico to ensure a healthy, clean, productive ocean and resilient coastal zone.
December 2016 - In This Issue:
I hope you're all having a happy December and not getting too bogged down in end-of-year reports, closing out budgets and the like. I was just thinking about what we've accomplished this year and all I can say is whew! what a year.

We underwent the grant renewal process and received a small, but helpful, increase; we developed the organization's first-ever Strategic Plan to guide the next five years of GCOOS' efforts and operations (if you haven't seen it yet, take a look!); and we also submitted our application through the new IOOS certification process -- a daunting task that made me especially grateful for our top-notch team of staff experts!

We also worked hard this year to share our message about the need for increased ocean observing assets and support for the Gulf of Mexico to local, state and federal representatives. That's a message that we will continue to carry into the new year as we work hard to meet and connect with new representatives across the government spectrum -- local to federal.

One thing that helps us to connect with these folks is our ability to share the stories about what our members do -- that's you! -- and how your work is helping to improve marine operations & safety, reduce coastal hazards, support healthy ecosystems & living resources, protect human health & safety and also support a healthy and productive Gulf economy.

Do you have a particular success you're proud of? If so, let us know! You can send me an email anytime. But you can also reach out directly to Nadine Slimak, our public outreach consultant, at Nadine@vettedcommunications.com. These stories are especially critical for me to be able to share during Hill visits and other meetings so, please, send them our way!

Wishing you happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!


Contact GCOOS
Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick , Executive Director

Dr. Matthew K. Howard
DMAC Coordinator

Dr. Chris Simoniello
Outreach and Education Coordinator

Dr. Shinichi Kobara
, Assistant Research Scientist, Product Developer

Felimon Gayanilo
, Systems Architect

Bob Currier
, Research Specialist, Product Developer

Stephanie Watson, Strategic Program Manager

Marion Stoessel, Senior Research Associate

Nadine Slimak, Public Relations & Content Marketing, Vetted Communications, LLC

Grant Craig, Program Coordinator

Laura Caldwell, Staff Assistant
News from GCOOS HQ
Closing Out the Year at GCOOS
GCOOS staff have been busy with several ongoing projects and numerous year-end tasks. Among them:
  • Working with Texas A&M University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on the DMAC side of the Imaging Flow CytoBot and initiating discussions with OBIS-USA on the data standards for this tool;
  • Developing a new data viewer with The Nature Conservancy using USGS data to track the spread of invasive lionfish species in the Gulf of Mexico. GCOOS also developed a tool tracking the spread of invasive Asian tiger shrimp as well. Look for more news on this early next year, but in the meantime, you can check out the data viewers now;
  • Supporting GOMRI's GRIIDC project, which is a data management system to aggregate scientific data generated by Gulf of Mexico researchers and developing plans for continuing this project in 2017;
  • Supporting ocean outreach and education efforts in numerous ways, particularly through engagement with MBON, GOMA, NOAA, the Gulf states and the Florida and National Marine Educators associations;
  • Expanding the utility of the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network data so it is more helpful to end users -- particularly the national marine sanctuaries managers who can use it to help track water quality and working;
  • Working on a NASA-funded project to improve red tide forecasting and the development of a smartphone application that can be used by people monitoring red tide conditions on local beaches. With red tides reported in both Southwest Florida and in Texas, we've undertaken some recent field-testing of different smartphone microscope set-ups, and are moving into machine learning to make this app truly automated.
  • And, of course, collecting data from in-water observing tools. Right now, we're tracking gliders for TAMU & Mote Marine Laboratory.
Partner News
Take the Survey: Repurposing Decommissioned Rigs 
The University of South Florida is assessing the interest in and potential applications for converting and operating an OCS oil/gas platform to support scientific research and environmental monitoring as part of the ATLONTIS Project. The Project is an alliance of public and private organizations considering the use and re-purposing of decommissioned oil and gas platforms in the northern Gulf. The new science base may be located in the northern Gulf Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) lease areas out to 1,000 meters deep.
State of the Gulf Summit 
Registration is now open for the 2017 State of the Gulf Summit, scheduled for March 26-28 in Houston. The Summit is followed by the GOMA all-hands meeting (at the same location) on March 29-30.
The Summit will focus on these main questions:
  • How will we assess change at the broadest Gulf ecosystem level to both assess the efficacy of restoration actions and identify potential issues beyond restoration?
  • How do we begin to effectively link environmental health, human health and economic health and well-being to assure a healthier and more sustainable future?
  • How do we effectively engage with our international partners, Mexico and Cuba, to address issues to assure the health and productivity of the Large Marine Ecosystem that is the Gulf of Mexico?
During the Summit, an update to the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Status Report will also be released. The original report, published in 2013, summarized various focal components in the Gulf of Mexico necessary to consider from an ecosystem perspective. The report highlighted potential indicators -- including climate drivers, biological states and socioeconomic responses -- that could be used to track these focal ecosystem components.
Meeting on International Research Needs in the Gulf 
BOEM, HRI, GRP and NOAA have scheduled an invitation-only workshop on international research in the Gulf of Mexico for March 29-30 (in conjunction with the GOMA All-Hands Meeting).

The meeting, "Gulf of Mexico Workshop on International Research," will be held at the Riverside Omni in Houston, Texas, and is designed to bring together expertise from broad disciplines to develop an international research agenda for the Gulf.

The meeting's objective is to identify, prioritize and facilitate potential international environmental research between Mexico, Cuba and the USA in the Gulf of Mexico. The facilitated workshop will bring together up to 150 researchers from the USA, Mexico and Cuba from academia, resource agencies and the private sector to participate.
The Gulf and the U.S. Energy Management Plan 2017-2022 
The U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Hopper have released the final plan to guide future energy development
for the Nation's Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for 2017-2022. The plan is designed to balance the nation's energy needs by including areas offshore with high resource potential and mature infrastructure while protecting regions with critical ecological resources.

The Proposed Final Program offers 11 potential lease sales in four planning areas -- 10 sales in the portions of three Gulf of Mexico Program Areas that are not under moratorium and one sale off the coast of Alaska in the Cook Inlet Program Area. After receiving extensive public input and analyzing the best available scientific data, the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas planning areas in the Arctic were not included in the Proposed Final Program. The Proposed Final Program makes available areas containing approximately 70 percent of the economically recoverable resources in the OCS.
Mississippi Beach Outfalls Challenge
MDEQ has created a Beach Outfalls Challenge to address the water quality impact of beach outfalls along the Mississippi Sound. The Challenge is soliciting design ideas and solutions from individuals, students, companies and teams who will compete to create innovative solutions for untreated stormwater and improve water quality. It is expected that the designs will be implemented at a larger scale across the Mississippi Coast.
Gulf of Mexico Alliance Announces Inaugural Gulf Star Projects
GOMA has awarded more than $630,000 to 19 Gulf Star projects, part of a public-private partnership program. The awards, developed in consultation with GOMA's Priority Issue Teams, are designed to address small but foundational issues associated with coastal resilience, water quality, habitat resources, data sharing, wildlife and marine debris. Together, these projects will provide data and information to inform the larger restoration efforts in the region.

The five-year program supports projects tied to healthy ecosystems that impact Gulf economies and 2016 Gulf Star partners come from each of the Gulf States, NOAA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Shell, Freeport McMoRan and The Nature Conservancy. Unlike other restoration programs in the region, the Gulf Star program is completely voluntary and is a result of the dedication to the philosophy that collaboration brings exponential results.
Seeking Bluefin-21 AUV Info
The Space Coast Maker Space and the Cura Oceanus Foundation are coordinating a community and academic project to renovate a Bluefin-21 AUV that was donated to the Florida Institute of Technology so that it can be used by students and citizen scientists.

The stainless steel pressure vessel holding the AUV's control boards apparently leaked and the contents were exposed to salt water. All the boards and software inside the vessel are gone, but the connector cups appear to be undamaged and everything else on the AUV appears to be in good order. The team has the shore controller and support software, but they do not know what was inside the pressure vessel; there is no BOM.

The team is seeking:
  • Spare parts or documentation on what was in the pressure vessel
  • Any documentation on the RS232 tail cone control interface. The control unit is sealed inside an oil-filled chamber and we would prefer to use it as-is.
  • Contact: Erica Moulton, Chair of MTS Florida Section, erica.moulton@gmail.com
Gulf Restoration News
Funding for Gulf Restoration Projects Announced
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced nearly $370 million in awards from its Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (GEBF) to fund 24 projects in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The projects, developed in consultation with state and federal resource agencies, are designed to remedy harm and reduce the risk of future harm to natural resources that were affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Gulf Research Program Awards $3M in Exploratory Grants (and Other GRP news) 
The GRP is pleased to announce the recipients of nine exploratory grants, totaling almost $3 million. These grants are intended to jumpstart the development of novel approaches, technologies, or methods and/or the application of new expertise in one of two areas:
  • How to improve the use of scenario planning to advance safety culture and minimize risk in offshore oil and gas operations
  • How to inform coastal community planning and response to environmental change in regions with offshore oil and gas operations
  • Read more
The GRP also recently announced Advisory Board Changes & opened a call for nominees for a new study. 
The GRP welcomes current Advisory Board member Dr. Jerry Melillo as the new board chair and five new members, whose terms begin Feb. 1:
  • Dr. Antonio J. Busalacchi, National Academy of Engineering member
  • Dr. Elizabeth (Terry) Fontham
  • Dr. Susan Hanson, NAS member
  • Ms. Jean May-Bret
  • Dr. Kathyrn Moran
GRP also thanked outgoing members, chair Dr. Tom Hunter, Dr. Don Boesch, Dr. Bernie Goldstein and Dr. LaDon Swann.

The GRP is also seeking nominees for a committee to oversee a new study on long-term coastal zone dynamics, with a focus on the interactions and feedbacks between natural and human processes and their implications for the U.S. coastline.

The study will bring together experts from a wide range of disciplines, including civil and coastal engineering, climate change adaptation and resilience, climate science, coastal ecology, coastal geology and geomorphology, energy systems, environmental law and policy, fisheries, natural resource economics, risk management and communications, social and cultural transitions and solid-Earth geophysics.

GRP is seeking a broad range of nominees by Dec. 23 with expertise in any relevant scientific discipline listed above or in a related field.
Restoration News from MDEQ
Gov. Phil Bryant announced that grants for two Mississippi restoration projects have been approved by the RESTORE Council (Bucket 2 of the RESTORE Act).
  • Enhancing the Opportunities for Beneficial Use of Dredge Sediments in the Mississippi Sound ($2.18 million) -- This project will provide funding for planning, engineering and design, and permitting to use dredge material for coastal restoration.
  • SeaGrant Education and Outreach -- Education and outreach activities to describe the values of land protection for habitat, water quality improvement and for securing the future of the Gulf of Mexico in Mississippi ($750,000) -- This project will establish an education and outreach program in Mississippi and provide grants to fund education activities focused on restoration activities such as land conservation, habitat stewardship and water quality.
MDEQ also released the 2016 Mississippi Gulf Coast Restoration Plan Addendum, which includes science-based goals for the overall restoration vision called "endpoints" and information on data updated to the Mississippi Comprehensive Ecosystem Restoration Tool (MCERT). MDEQ also posted a response to the comments it received from the Mississippi Environmental Focus Group.

C-IMAGE Update 
Researchers with the C-IMAGE-II Consortium recently completed the One Gulf Expedition aboard the R/V Weatherbird II. They collected thousands of bottom- dwelling fish, sediment, water, and plankton samples from the Yucatan Peninsula and Bay of Campeche to the Texas shelf. The 4,000-mile journey circumnavigating the Gulf completed a four-year plan to establish fish samples and sediment cores of baseline data from across the Gulf in Mexican and U.S. waters. While the R/V Weatherbird II was circling the Gulf, the Tunnell Trek was collecting tar, sediment cores and tree cores from Mexican coastlines impacted by the 1979 Ixtoc I spill.
  • Read more about this expedition and other summer and fall GOMRI expeditions in the most recent GOMRI newsletter
Dispatches from the Gulf 
TAMU researcher Dr. Scott Socolofsky was featured in a recent podcast from Dispatches from the Gulf -- a new Journey to Planet Earth episode showing how scientists confront the challenges of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The documentary also investigates the impact of the event on the ecosystem and communities along the Gulf of Mexico.

Part of the effort includes podcast interviews with scientists studying the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Socolofsky discusses his path to the Deepwater Horizon aftermath -- and an amazing story of a whale that fell in love with a robot.

Other recent video and podcasts include conversations with Raffaele Montuoro, Piers Chapman and Steve DiMarco; University of Georgia's Dr. Samantha "Mandy" Joye and Professor Brian Haus from the University of Miami.
Study finds widespread coastal land losses from Gulf oil spill 
A U.S. Geological Survey-NASA study has found widespread shoreline loss along heavily oiled areas of Louisiana's coast after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and compared the erosion from the spill with coastal changes Hurricane Isaac caused in 2012.

The study, "Wetland shoreline recession in the Mississippi River Delta from petroleum oiling and cyclonic storms," was published in Geophysical Research Letters.
Restoration Resources
Restoration Funding Calendar
  • NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program hosts a three-year calendar that consolidates planned funding opportunities
By State:

Employment Opportunities
Dauphin Island
The Alabama Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium, better known as the Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL), seeks an experienced and accomplished marine scientist to serve as Chair of University Programs.
  • The position will remain open until filled, but applications review begins Jan. 30 with interviews anticipated in early March.
  • Application packages may be sent to the attention of Dr. Ruth H. Carmichael, upsearch@disl.org.
The Lab is also offering a Ph.D. Fellowship focused on nutrient cycling, eutrophication, hypoxia and acidification. The successful candidate will work in the lab of John Lehrter whose research is aimed at understanding and untangling the effects of multiple stressors on coastal ecosystems. The fellowship provides an annual stipend plus a full tuition waiver.
  • Applications for fall semester are generally reviewed in February. Applicants interested in this fellowship opportunity are encouraged to contact John Lehrter
  • Details
Gulf Research Program Fellowships
GRP offers fellowships for early career researchers and in the arena of science policy.
The two-year early-career research fellowship supports emerging scientists as they take risks on research ideas not yet tested, pursue unique collaborations and build a network of colleagues who share their interest in preventing oil spills and in the well-being of coastal communities and ecosystems.
The science policy fellowship program helps early-career scientists hone their skills by putting them to practice for the benefit of Gulf Coast communities and ecosystems.
Funding Opportunities
GRP Funding Announcement 
GRP has a new $10 million grant opportunity geared toward better understanding and reducing systemic risk associated with oil spills, big and small and is seeking proposals for projects that aim to fill gaps in fundamental scientific and technological research -- gaps that, if filled, could reduce risk during offshore oil and gas drilling, production, and decommissioning activities.
  • Letters of intent submissions now open & due at 5 p.m. Feb. 1
  • Details
MDEQ Seeking Bids for Deer Marsh Restoration
This Project is administered by MDEQ and funded through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, Agreement # 45721. The purpose of the project is to divert material from the site adjacent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' project in the East Biloxi Bay Access Channel and transport and place the material to the appropriate site on Deer Island. The successful bidder shall have prior experience in marine dredging and construction in coastal waters.
  • Sealed bids will be received until 10:30 a.m. CST, Wednesday Dec. 28, 2016 at the MDEQ office located at 1141 Bayview Avenue, Suite 208, Biloxi, MS 39530.
  • Details
NFWF's Gulf Coast Conservation Grant Program
The NFWF's Gulf Coast Conservation Grant Program is now accepting applications. The Program supports conservation projects that enhance coastal habitats of the Gulf of Mexico and bolster priority fish and wildlife populations, while strengthening resilience with the coastal regions.
Events & Meetings

The American Meteorological Society will host its 97th Annual Meeting with the theme "Observations Lead the Way." Meeting in Seattle Jan. 22-26, 2017.
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Sciences Conference, February 6-9, 2017, Hyatt Regency Hotel, New Orleans

ASLO Aquatic Sciences Meeting, February 26-March 3, 2017. Honolulu, HI.
Radiowave Operators Working Group Meeting (ROWG) is scheduled for March 13-14, 2017 at TAMU-Galveston. CODAR will also hold a user group meeting on March 15 in Galveston.

State of the Gulf Summit, March 26-28, 2017. Houston, TX. The Summit if followed by a GOMA all-hands meeting from March 29-30.

International Research Needs Meeting hosted by BOEM, HRI, GRP and NOAA, March 29-30, 2017, Houston, TX. Invitation-only.

3rd Blue Planet Symposium: Dates have changed
The Symposium will serve as a forum for discussion of societal information needs resulting from the important role the ocean plays in Earth's life-support system and the challenge of minimizing the impacts of human activities on the oceans while utilizing the resources of the oceans to meet our needs.
  • Details
  • College Park, MD, May31-June 2, 2017
Other Gulf-Related Events
Have a meeting, job and funding announcement? Please email details to Laura Caldwell at GCOOS.

Your input, guidance, support and membership are important to the development of data, products and services that you need. Contact the  GCOOS Business Office to become a GCOOS member and for more information. We welcome your feedback and ideas for relevant news items. Please email your feedback and ideas to Laura Caldwell.