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 2015 - In This Issue:


The GCOOS Board of Directors met via teleconference on Dec. 9 and approved several committee changes. We would like to welcome Mike Lee from USGS as our new membership committee chair and Pat Hogan, NRL, as our modeling task team chair. We also offer a hearty thank you to Alyssa Dausman and Cort Cooper for their contributions as previous committee chairs. I'm happy to report they will both stay engaged with GCOOS; Alyssa as a board member and Cort as a member of the modeling task team.

As we close out the books on 2015 -- GCOOS' milestone 10th anniversary year -- and write our final reports, I've been pleased to see how much we've been able to accomplish together to improve the Gulf observing system.

I wish you all happy holidays and a wonderful New Year and look forward to an even more productive 2016!

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

Susan Martin
, Research Associate

Laura Caldwell
, Staff Assistant
News from GCOOS HQ
Spreading the Word About GCOOS
This year, we've been working to expand public knowledge of GCOOS as an organization and bring more attention to the work being done by our PIs and members by sharing our news with the media and on social media. Here are a couple of stories that were recently in the media:

"Scientists look to improve quality of data collected at sea," Panama City News Herald, featured a story about a new NSF-funded project designed to help make ocean sensor metadata
  more accessible to users. The story was also featured online in Government Technology.

Online magazine, ECO (environment, coastal & offshore), recently featured
a story about the release of the new HABIOS plan. It was also featured in the News Herald, WWNO (New Orleans National Public Radio station) and online at FIS (Fish Information & Services, a global seafood industry publication).

You can find these and other GCOOS press releases online at our website or in our online newsroom at our news service, Newswise.

Social Media
If you haven't seen it yet, please check out & like our Facebook page . We also recently created a YouTube channel. Right now, it features just a single video -- about GCOOS' Gulf Guardian winner, Cory Diaz -- but we're hoping that you can help fill it up.

Members and PIs can send clips of fieldwork to us and we'll use them to show the public what coastal observing is all about.

Likewise, if you have an item that you think might be newsworthy, please tell us about it! We want to help you spread the word about your work and about the need to expand coastal observing in the Gulf. Please feel free to contact our public relations consultant, Nadine Slimak at Vetted Communications, directly (Nadine@vettedcommunications.com).  
Speaking of our Gulf Guardian...
Congratulations again to Cory Diaz, 9, of Bay Point Elementary School, who won the K-4th grade category of Tampa Bay Watch's 5th Annual Holidays in the Tampa Bay Habitat Art Contest!

Ninety-four children entered the contest by drawing or painting a picture with a theme featuring holidays in the Tampa Bay habitat, featuring the Tampa Bay estuary, its shorelines, the watershed and the creatures that live in this unique and special place. Their winning artwork will be featured Tampa Bay Watch's annual holiday greeting cards. Visit tampabaywatch.org to view a gallery of the creative entries.
Data Engineering in the Real World
GCOOS Senior Data Engineer & Research Specialist Bob Currier recently gave a talk for students and faculty from the Data Science Program at New College of Florida. "VAMPIRE: Taking a Bite Out of Big Data" talked about real world data in real world situations and gave the audience a glimpse of what happens during a day in the life of a working data engineer. One item of discussion was VAMPIRE (Visualization And Mapping Platform for Ichthyological Records Evaluation), a new data mapping tool that Currier is developing for iTAG, the Gulf marine animal tagging community, which will be hosted on GCOOS' Data Portal.
San Francisco Chronicle Editorial: "After dungeness crab poisoning, is drinking water next?"
Raphael Kudela, professor of ocean health at UC Santa Cruz and co-chair of the U.S. National Harmful Algal Bloom Committee; Vera Trainer, president of the International Society for the Study of Harmful Algae; Barbara Kirkpatrick, GCOOS executive director and National HAB Committee co-chair; and Don Anderson, senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, recently published an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle calling for increased research and monitoring of HABS and about the need for ocean observing systems to forecast blooms.
Partner News
Texas A&M & the University of Haifa to Establish Eastern Mediterranean Observatory 
Texas A&M University and the University of Haifa have announced plans to establish a major Mediterranean observatory to capitalize on the oceanographic and atmospheric strengths of the two institutions and build on existing teaching and research in the Gulf of Mexico.  
The agreement, totaling more than $5.5 million in initial investments, will be known as the "Texas A&M - University of Haifa Eastern Mediterranean Observatory" ("THEMO") and located at the University of Haifa with its access to critical Mediterranean coastal regions, while drawing on instrumentation and analytical expertise of Texas A&M University faculty and their similar research initiatives in the Gulf of Mexico.

While separated geographically by half a world, the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean Sea are viewed as similar bodies of water and thus provide unique opportunities for comparative analysis of their related impacts on the environment, industry and people of their regions.

The strategic and scientific venture connects common environmental interests of the two university sites through the monitoring and comparison of processes associated with two similar bodies of water - the Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.  Led by faculty of the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University, the project will be multidisciplinary, drawing on expertise from various fields and disciplines.
Congratulations: ASLO Fellowship Award
Congratulations to GCOOS PI, Dr. Lisa Campbell, of TAMU's Department of Oceanography. She was named to the inaugural class of ASLO fellows -- a well-deserved honor. The ASLO Fellows program was initiated to honor members of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography who have advanced the aquatic sciences via exceptional contributions to the benefit of the society and its publications. Way to go Dr. Campbell!

IOOS Bill Advances
Legislation to reauthorize the foundations for the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) has passed unanimously out of the Senate Commerce Committee. The bill, titled "Coordinated Ocean Monitoring and Research Act" S.1886, was introduced by U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., in July. The next step is for the bill to go to the full Senate for a vote, which has not yet been scheduled.

In the House, the bill was introduced as "Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observing System Act Amendments of 2015" H.R.2744. It remains in committee.
New Smartphone App for Emergency Preparedness in Louisiana Waterways

A new, free smartphone app is now available to improve emergency preparedness for those who navigate Louisiana waters. Waterway Information for Vessels (WAVE) went online in November and is unique because it brings data from numerous sources into a single mobile platform.

WAVE allows users to toggle on and off the layers of information they want to view, including maps, charts, weather conditions, warnings and forecasts, fisheries data and historic storm information. The application also shows publicly owned waterfront areas and an emergency preparedness section is provided for Vermilion Parish.

Lauren Land, Louisiana Sea Grant's sustainability coordinator, served as project manager for the multi-disciplinary team from the four entities at Louisiana State University that created the app. It was made possible with funding from the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio's 2014-2015 Small Projects Fund.
WAVE was designed for iPhone and iPad and is available as a free download through the Apple App Store.
Get Involved: QA/QC Manuals for HF Radar and Gliders 
If you want to be part of the groups developing QA/QC manuals for HF Radar or glider data, please contact the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System's Quality Assurance for Real-Time Oceanographic Data (QARTOD) effort through http://www.ioos.noaa.gov/qartod/. QARTOD has already developed a series of eight manuals for different oceanographic parameters, including dissolved nutrients, winds, water levels, in situ surface waves, ocean optics, in situ temperature and salinity, dissolved oxygen and in situ currents.
Gulf of Mexico Marine Mammal Research and Monitoring Meeting Summary
Marine mammal scientists and managers working in the Gulf met in New Orleans to discuss the state of marine mammal science. One hundred people attended the meeting, with presentations and posters summarizing recent and ongoing projects in the Gulf. Participants also discussed existing and emerging funding opportunities, some of which could be used to expand research, monitoring and analytical capabilities to address priority information needs for marine mammals in the Gulf.

If you missed the meeting and want to catch up, the report is now available. It is a summary of the presentations and ensuing discussions and the appendices provide a list of posters, descriptions of 53 recent and ongoing marine mammal projects in the Gulf and a list of meeting registrants.
164 Gulf Sites Named for Aggies
It might soon be called the Gulf of Mexico at Texas A&M.  A recent batch of underwater features in the Gulf have been named for Texas A&M University people or affiliations -- including one named for Worth Nowlin, former GCOOS Board Member who was instrumental in the organization's founding.

The number of features named after Aggies now totals 164, according to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. It's believed Texas A&M has more underwater features named after it than any other university in the world.

Gulf Restoration News
New Report Highlights Pressing Needs in Gulf of Mexico Monitoring
 A new report by the Ocean Conservancy, "Charting the Gulf: Analyzing the Gaps in Long-term Monitoring in the Gulf of Mexico," provides a comprehensive look at current monitoring programs in the Gulf and outlines critical gaps in coverage.
According to the analysis:
  1. There are many existing monitoring efforts that restoration decision-makers can use to track the recovery of injured natural resources. Building on these existing efforts will improve consistency, efficiency and coordination.
  2. There are gaps in monitoring and in our understanding of natural resources in the Gulf that must be addressed in order to effectively evaluate recovery and thus the success of restoration programs in the Gulf ecosystem.
  3. As a group, the species and habitats in the offshore environment are monitored to a lesser degree than coastal or terrestrial species and habitats . Addressing the currently disjointed monitoring system and moving toward a Gulf-wide ecosystem-monitoring network will provide a more efficient, integrated and accessible tool for ecosystem information.
According to the report's authors: "For restoration to be successful, we must continue to invest in the research and monitoring we need to better understand impacted resources and their role in the ecosystem. Targeted and sustained investments in science shed crucial light on ecosystem health and lead to new tools and better management decisions."

As provider of the Gulf's major data collection portal, GCOOS-RA echoes the need to have more tools in place to monitor the Gulf -- especially offshore and at depth -- along with adequate funding to maintain current operations and systems.

According to GCOOS-RA's Kirkpatrick: "Billions of dollars are being spent to study the impacts the spill had on the environment and to help restore what was damaged or lost. These studies are all very necessary and crucial for the Gulf ecosystem, but with the current level of oil and gas production in the Gulf, and more leases expected in the future in the U.S. and in Mexico, we still don't have the tools in place that will allow us to adequately respond to another spill."
RESTORE Council Approves Funded Priorities List
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council approved a Funded Priorities List worth about $140 million that determines environmental projects and activities that are to receive the first round of funding from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill civil penalties.

The projects were selected based on their ability to create a base that future projects can build on, restore the Gulf Coast region's environmental health and promote its ecosystems and economy. Listed projects include both those that will impact the ecosystem in the near future as well as planning activities.

Mississippi Announces DWH Restoration Projects
Gov. Phil Bryant has announced several projects f or the State of Mississippi designed to help restore and protect Mississippi's environment and economy following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Bryant made the announcement during the December RESTORE Council meeting . The four projects recommended by Mississippi were:
  • Strategic Land Protection, Conservation, and Enhancement of Priority Gulf Coast Landscapes ($15.5 million): Protects lands through acquisition and conservation easement programs with priority areas that include the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the DeSoto National Forest.
  • Enhancing the Opportunities for Beneficial Use of Dredge Sediments ($2.18 million) to fund planning, engineering, design and permitting to use dredge material for coastal restoration.
  • The Mississippi Sound Estuarine Program: A Programmatic Vision for Bridging Coastal Restoration ($2.27 million), which will allow the Estuarine Program to act as a coordinating body to ensure maximize Mississippi restoration success.
  • SeaGrant Education and Outreach ($750,000) to establish an education and outreach program in Mississippi and provide grants to fund education activities focused on restoration, including land conservation, habitat stewardship and water quality.
The governor also announced Mississippi's initial Multiyear Implementation Plan (MIP) which includes nine proposed projects totaling more than $54.1 million.  The projects were proposed by the GoCoast 2020 Commission, established to serve as the official advisory body for the allocation of funds received by the state under the RESTORE Act. The projects must be approved by the U.S. Department of the Treasury after a 45-day public comment period.
  • Comprehensive information about these projects and all of Mississippi's restoration efforts can be found at www.restore.ms

$52.2 million OK'd for Louisiana coastal projects
In Louisiana, the state will receive $52.2 million for six coastal restoration projects and a study of the lower Mississippi River.

According to NOLA.com, the Louisiana projects include:
  • $14.2 million to plan and design a freshwater diversion from the Mississippi River into Maurepas Swamp 
  • $9.3 million to continue a long-term study of how best to manage water and sediment resources of the lower Mississippi
  • $8.7 million to fill old oil exploration canals in the Barataria Unit of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve 
  • $7.3 million to construct a beach, dune and back marsh restoration project on West Grand Terre Island 
  • $5.2 million to plan and design a ridge and marsh restoration along Bayou Dularge in Terrebonne Parish
  • $4.3 million to plan and design the restoration of the Golden Triangle wetlands adjacent to the new Lake Borgne surge barrier
  • $3.2 million to plan and design a "living shoreline" of oyster reefs along the southern edge of the Biloxi Marshes.

Restoration Resources
Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker
By State:

Employment Opportunities
Dartmouth College
A Ph.D. graduate fellowship is available to begin as soon as Fall 2016 in the Ecology, Evolution, Ecosystems and Society (EEES) graduate program at Dartmouth College. Primary research opportunities include working on community-based fisheries and farming in the Dominican Republic. The successful candidate will have a strong background in an environmentally oriented social science or related disciplines. Requirements include an interest in linkages among ecology, evolution, ecosystems and society. The new EEES graduate program at Dartmouth College offers an interdisciplinary intellectual environment, ample resources for graduate students and a committed faculty. To initiate an application, email a CV and statement of interest to Dr. Michael Cox, Assistant Professor, ( Michael.e.cox@dartmouth.edu ). International applications are welcome.
UNC Wilmington
A position is available for a research scientist in the Center for Marine Science Marine Biotechnology Program at UNC Wilmington. Applicants should have a Ph.D. or equivalent with a specialty in taxonomy and identification of marine phytoplankton, particularly harmful bloom species. Duties include supervising staff who maintain a multi-species living culture collection of harmful algae. Applicants must me skilled in species identification using various microscopical methods including brightfield, epifluorescence and confocal microscopy as well as familiarity with scanning and transmission electron microscopy.  Experience in molecular methods in determining and analyzing gene sequences is desirable. The position is hard money, 12-month position through the University of North Carolina Wilmington. No teaching is mandatory, however if the successful applicant desires, limited teaching could be arranged. Collaboration with organic and natural product chemists is encouraged to compliment an in-house research team. Interested parties should provide an updated CV, statement of research interests and list of skills appropriate to the position. E-mail inquiries can be sent to Carmelo Tomas at tomasc@uncw.edu.
Other Opportunities
Visit Ocean Leadership for more job postings in the marine field.
Funding & Related Opportunities
Applications Being Accepted for Harmful Algae Identification Course
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences is offering a course on identifying harmful algae with all travel, tuition and per diem fees supported by NOAA.

The "First U.S. Training Course on the Identification of Harmful Algae in U.S. Marine Waters" is designed to provide local, state and federal HAB managers and analysts expert training in taxonomic ID of HABs.

The course will focus on dinoflagellate, flagellate and diatom species and include lectures, demonstrations and hands-on training sessions with live and preserved samples.

Participants will be selected through a competitive process. Applications are due by Dec. 31, 2015 & successful candidates will be notified by March 15, 2016.
Proposals Sought for Northern Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Hypoxia Assessment Program (NGOMEX) and Coastal Hypoxia Research Program (CHRP)OEM Invites Ideas for Environmental Studies, FY 2017
NOAA/NOS/National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS)/Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research (CSCOR) is soliciting proposals for the Northern Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Hypoxia Assessment Program (NGOMEX) and Coastal Hypoxia Research Program (CHRP). Funding is contingent upon the availability of Fiscal Year 2016 Federal appropriations. It is anticipated that projects funded under this announcement will have a Sept. 1, 2016 start date. Total funding for this research: For NGOMEX, approximately 2 to 6 projects, for approximately 2-4 years in duration, are expected to be funded at a level not to exceed $300,000 per year per proposal. For CHRP, approximately 3 to 7 projects, for approximately 2-5 years in duration, are expected to be funded at a level not to exceed $400,000 per year per proposal. It is anticipated that up to $1,850,000 may be available in Fiscal Year 2016 for the first year of all hypoxia projects combined. In addition to these annual funding limits, NOAA does not anticipate funding any proposals submitted with total budgets (across all years) that are greater than $1,200,000 for NGOMEX and $2,000,000 for CHRP.
Hypoxia Modeling
NOAA National Competitive Hypoxia Programs: the Northern Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Hypoxia Assessment Program (NGOMEX) and Coastal Hypoxia Research Program (CHRP) solicits proposals to improve existing or develop new quantitative models to determine population-to-ecosystem-level effects of Gulf of Mexico hypoxia both spatially and temporally on ecologically and commercially important aquatic species. Application deadline is Jan. 22, 2016. (Funding Opportunity Number: NOAA-NOS-NCCOS-2016-2004640) 
$7 Million XPRIZE Competition Seeks to Usher in a New Era of Ocean Exploration
The Chairman and CEO of XPRIZE has announced the launch of a $7 million Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE -- a competition challenging teams to advance ocean technologies for rapid and unmanned ocean exploration.

As part of the three-year global competition, NOAA is offering a $1 million bonus prize to teams that demonstrate technology that can find a specific object in the ocean using biological and chemical signals.

According to an article in ECO, The competition includes nine months for team registration, 12 months for initial solution development and 18 months to complete two rounds of testing and judging by an expert panel. In each round, teams will complete a series of tasks, including making a bathymetric map (a map of the sea floor), producing high-resolution images of a specific object, and identifying archeological, biological or geological features. Teams also must show resiliency and durability by proving they can operate their technologies, deployed from the shore or air, at a depth of up to 4,000 meters.
Events & Meetings


96th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society, 10-14 January 2016, New Orleans, LA

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference, 1-4 February 2016, Tampa, FL

2016 Ocean Science Meeting,  21-26 February 2016, New Orleans, LA

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.