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.
January 2016 - In This Issue:
I hope many of you had the opportunity to attend the recent Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference in Tampa, Fla. Several of our staff members, including DMAC Coordinator Matt Howard and Systems Architect Felimon Gayanilo, participated in or led sessions during the conference and several GCOOS Board members -- including Nancy Rabalais, Steve Buschang, Alyssa Dausman and Stephen Howden -- also attended.
Our Build Out Plan was referenced in many discussions and presentations throughout the week. While there is much support for the plan, we -- like many of our counterparts nationwide -- continue to be challenged to find comprehensive funding that will allow us to add assets to our observational capabilities. During the conference, I had the opportunity to meet with several organizations to discuss the importance of implementing the BOP and it was heartening to learn that many of these groups are interested in working more closely with us.

It is my hope that these and similar conversations will lead to increased support for observations in the Gulf of Mexico, especially as each state considers allocation of oil spill funds.
At the GCOOS office, we're also finalizing the agenda for our next All-Hands Meeting on March 31 in New Orleans. All GCOOS members are encouraged to attend and I hope to see many of you there. (Details & RSVP info below.)
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
GCOOS All-Hands and Annual Board Meeting
All GCOOS members are invited to the open session of our annual meeting, which is being held this year on Thursday, March 31, at Le Pavillon Hotel, 833 Poydras St., in New Orleans. (The GCOOS Board meets in closed sessions on Wednesday, March 30, and Friday, April 1.)
We've reserved a block of rooms for meeting attendees at the rate of $190 per night, with parking $25 per car, per day. Attendees should call the hotel directly at 504.581.3111 or 800.535.9095 to make reservations before Sunday, Feb. 28. Lunch and light refreshments will be provided to meeting attendees, so if you're planning to come, please RSVP to Susan Martin so that we can make appropriate meal reservations and have a goody bag for you.
Call for Nominations: GCOOS Board of Directors
GCOOS' Membership Committee is seeking nominations for the organization's Board of Directors. The nomination deadline is 5 p.m. CST, Friday, March 4, 2016. Ballots will be sent out for a vote on Friday, March 11. Voting ends at close of business Friday, March 25.

Board duties include:
  • Setting policy for the organization and providing direction to the Executive Director;
  • Revising bylaws and other documents as necessary;
  • Establishing and maintaining the structure of the Regional Association, including approval of appointments to the RA's Councils, Committees, Task Teams or other groups;
  • Approving budgets, the business model, proposals and endorsements requested by members for proposals they intend to submit.
About Board Service:
  • Terms are three years and begin at the autumn Board meeting (usually held in September);
  • The Board meets twice annually in person and via phone every two months; the Board may also be called to meet when priority situations arise;
  • Directors are not paid; however expenses related to GCOOS in-person Board meetings are reimbursed;
  • Self-nominations are welcome.
GCOOS Now Part of National Weather-Ready Initiative
GCOOS is now a member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador™ initiative. This NOAA initiative recognizes partners that are helping to improve the nation's readiness against extreme weather, water and climate events.  As the Gulf's clearinghouse for data and information about conditions throughout the region, GCOOS is proud to join with this initiative to help support the resiliency of coastal communities, said Dr. Chris Simoniello, GCOOS Outreach and Education Manager.
"One of our main objectives at GCOOS since our inception has been helping to educate residents in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida about the role the Gulf of Mexico plays in their daily lives and provide them with timely information about water and weather conditions," Simoniello said. "Joining the Weather-Ready Nation program will help give us additional tools to educate the public and help us develop an even closer working relationship with other agencies that have a mission similar to ours."
Partner News
LSU's Earth Scan Laboratory Develops Bird's-Eye View of Lake Pontchartrain Sediment Plume
When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway on Jan. 10, it was the earliest in a calendar year the Spillway had ever been opened. Located southwest of Lake Pontchartrain, the Bonnet Carré is designed to divert water from the Mississippi River through the Lake and out into the Gulf of Mexico to keep New Orleans from flooding.
Forty-one percent of the continental U.S. drains to the Gulf of Mexico through the Mississippi River and the heavy rains and flooding in the Midwest in December caused by the current El Niño Event and possible effects of climate change necessitated the Spillway's early opening to protect New Orleans.
When the Army Corps opened the Spillway -- just the 11th time ever in the Bonnet Carré's 85-year history -- Dr. Nan Walker, Director of the Earth Scan Laboratory (ESL) at Louisiana State University and a principal investigator for GCOOS, was watching.
The ESL, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, captures satellite data from the entire Gulf of Mexico (along with most of the Western Atlantic, the extreme Eastern Pacific and the land mass from Hudson Bay to northern-most South America) to create a record of environmental information for education, research, economic and forensic applications.

Gulf is the Center for the Nation's First Regulatory System for Open Ocean Aquaculture in Federal Waters 

Divers around the open-ocean aquaculture cage at the Cape Eleuthera Institiute. NOAA photo.

NOAA recently filed a final rule implementing the nation's first comprehensive regulatory program for aquaculture in federal waters. The groundbreaking rule creates a coordinated permitting system for the Gulf of Mexico, opening the door for the region to expand seafood production and create new jobs in an environmentally sustainable manner.
"As demand for seafood continues to rise, aquaculture presents a tremendous opportunity not only to meet this demand, but also to increase opportunities for the seafood industry and job creation," said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA administrator. "Expanding U.S. aquaculture in federal waters complements wild harvest fisheries and supports our efforts to maintain sustainable fisheries and resilient oceans."
The new rule authorizes NOAA Fisheries to issue permits to grow species such as red drum, cobia and almaco jack in federal waters in the Gulf for an initial period of 10 years. The rule took into account thousands of public comments.
HRI Developing Report Card for the Gulf 
(From the Corpus Christi Caller Times)
As billions are being invested in restoring the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 BP oil spill, a report card to assess the efforts is being developed at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
The research is funded by a portion of Clean Water Act fines collected after the spill. The institute was one of seven research teams awarded federal money in September and will assemble key players in March to execute the first phase of a two-year project -- dubbed "Indicators and Assessment Framework for Ecological Health and Ecosystem Services."
USM Funding Increase Helps to Support Gulf Coast Research
(From the Sun Herald)
Photo by Sun Herald
Photo by Sun Herald
The University of Southern Mississippi saw a significant increase in research funding last year, with a large amount of the money going toward research conducted on the Gulf Coast -- research that officials said could produce direct benefits for Coast residents.
USM got almost $73 million in external funding for research during fiscal year 2015, a 24.1 percent increase over the previous year. About $16.6 million came from the BP oil-spill settlement.
That money will be used at Stennis Space Center for oceanographers to research water circulation in the ocean, geology and chemistry. At USM's Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs, it will fund studies into fisheries, marine resources, wetlands, marshes, marine diseases, oysters and oyster culturing.
Coastal Resilience Grant Awarded
The Gulf of Mexico Alliance recently received a major Coastal Resilience Grant from NOAA. Two of the six Alliance teams -- Habitat Resources and Coastal Resilience -- will work with 10 coastal communities to foster resilience planning and promote best practices for future mitigation actions. The award will also support the update of existing tools identified by communities as vital to the decision-making process. The project aims to improve risk communication and will develop a Coastal Resilience Roadmap for use by communities throughout the Gulf to prepare for future hazards.
Mote Identifies First U.S. Black Grouper Spawning Site
Mote scientist Dr. James Locascio describes the first-known U.S. spawning site for black grouper in a February 2016 print volume of the U.S. Fishery Bulletin, the nation's oldest peer-reviewed fisheries journal. This site is in the Florida Keys and also hosts red grouper and red hind spawning activity.
In the NOAA-funded study, Locascio deployed acoustic digital recorders at seven locations on Riley's Hump, a protected marine area where scientists can study the fish populations but recreational and commercial fishing are not permitted. 
Gulf Restoration News
Learn More About Mississippi's Restoration Plan
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is planning a webinar designed to give stakeholders an overview of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Restoration Plan, as well as the Mississippi Comprehensive Ecosystem Restoration Tool (MCERT) and the Decision Support System (DSS). The MDEQ resulted from a year-long data collection and stakeholder engagement effort, funded by an earlier National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grant to understand the Mississippi landscape and the public's restoration priorities. The MCERT and DSS were developed as part of the process to support science-based decision-making for restoration.
If you took part in the Community Conversations or Resource Summits last year, then you had a hand in developing this Plan. The webinar will be held at 10 a.m. CST, Tuesday. 
NOAA Restore Act Science Program Restoration Funding Calendar
The science and restoration programs working in the Gulf of Mexico have developed a three-year calendar consolidating planned funding opportunities. The calendar will enable stakeholders to remain informed about opportunities and grant application dates so that they may plan ahead and submit their applications to the appropriate funding opportunity.
Note: The calendar contains only information on currently planned future opportunities as of February 2016. Additional opportunities and details may be released as funding programs develop and finalize their funding opportunities, especially for years 2017 and beyond. This calendar only includes a subset of programs in the Gulf region that have received funding as a consequence of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Restoration Resources
By State:

Employment Opportunities
Caribbean Coastal Ocean Observing System (CariCOOS)
CariCOOS is seeking an information technology specialist to administer CariCOOS' computer and network infrastructure while performing the daily tasks required to operate an efficient DMAC subsystem. The successful candidate must hold a BS in mathematics, computer science or related discipline (MS degree and/or three years of experience are desirable but not required); be fully bilingual; and be substantially knowledgeable of Linux-based server operating systems and administration (including account managing, troubleshooting, compilation and software installation).

He /she will analyze, design and coordinate the expansion and optimization of the local network and the high performance computing (HPC), and communications infrastructure. Specific tasks include: design, operation, and maintenance of communication and security protocols; design and optimization of HPC systems for parallel computing; development of user manuals, reports, and similar documentation concerning the above mentioned tasks; training users including professors, students, and staff in matters pertinent to the above mentioned tasks; serving as liaison between CariCOOS and UPRM's Central IT office and other private and institutional providers; assisting CariCOOS scientists with computational experiments and the computational component of scientific proposal and report writing; coordination of purchases, installation, configuration, troubleshooting, and repairs of computational, communications, and network infrastructure; among others. The operational nature of the CariCOOS enterprise will require 24/7 troubleshooting responsiveness. The selected candidate will become a member of the CariCOOS DMAC team and will work in collaboration with senior scientific and technical personnel. Salary commensurate with education and experience.
  • Deadline: Feb. 19, 2016.
  • Send resume and the name and contact information for three references to: Sylvia Rodriguez-Abudo, Ph.D., Deputy Director. 
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
A research participation training opportunity is currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD)/National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL).  This appointment will be served with the Exposure Methods and Measurements Division (EMMD) in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

EMMD develops, evaluates, and applies methods, and performs laboratory and field studies to collect and analyze exposure related data.  In addition, it develops new measurement methods, and evaluates sensors including remote sensing technologies and applications. Research involves applying advanced monitoring technology to assess land cover change, terrestrial and aquatic vegetative structure, and water color algorithm development at a variety of scales.

This research project is part of a larger collaborative effort between the U.S. EPA, NASA, NOAA, and USGS to provide an approach for mainstreaming satellite ocean color capabilities into U.S. fresh and brackish water quality management decisions (see http://bit.ly/1MV7WHT and www.epa.gov/cyanoproject). The project goal is to support the environmental management and public use of U.S. lakes, reservoirs, and estuaries by providing the capability to detect and quantify cyanobacteria blooms using satellite data records. 

Nature Coast Biological Station
NCBS seeks a research assistant professor -- estuarine ecologist in Cedar Key, Fla. This is a 12-month, non-tenure-accruing research assistant professor (non tenure track) faculty position that will include three primary responsibilities: conducting research, facilitating collaborations among UF/IFAS faculty and agency partners, and teaching courses on estuarine ecology in the Nature Coast Region of Florida.
Dauphin Island Sea Lab 
The Lab is seeking an undergraduate (junior or senior) intern for summer educational programs. Interns assist the DHP education staff in programs for K-12 students, teachers and the public. Interns work with the educators assisting in all aspects of logistics, planning, classroom prep and teaching.  Interns also have the opportunity to participate in off-campus outreach programs. Housing and meals are provided, along with a stipend. Position is June 2 - Aug. 4, 2016.
Animal Telemetry Network Coordinator
The U.S. Animal Telemetry Network (ATN) will be an alliance among Federal and non-Federal, state, regional, tribal and academic tagging partners to maximize collaborations within the community and access to animal telemetry data, to generate information products, to provide science-based information for species- and ecosystem-based management, and to promote economic, social and environmental benefits nationally and globally. The ATN is designed as a distributed technology and information network that applies consistent international data standards and best practices to achieve seamless integration, not only among various ATN observing assets and animal telemetry efforts, but also with other observing systems.
Funding & Related Opportunities
NAS Gulf Research Program
Letters of intent for the Gulf Research Program's Exploratory Grants cycle are due by 5 p.m. Feb. 17. These grants support projects that seek to break new ground to address an old or a new problem through innovation. By innovation, we mean the development of new approaches, technologies, or methods and/or the application of new expertise through the engagement of novel, non-traditional disciplinary or cross-sectoral perspectives. Responsive grants could include research, methods development, or approaches for translating or applying scientific evidence to decision making. These grants are modeled on the National Science Foundation's EArly concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER). They are not intended for incremental research in well-studied areas.
Full proposals (open only to applicants who submitted letters of intent) are due April 13, 2016
NOAA Sea Grant Aquaculture Program
Depending on the availability of funds, NOAA Sea Grant expects to have up to $3 million  available for a national competition to fund new FY2016 aquaculture research projects. This is part of the overall plan to support the development of environmentally and economically sustainable ocean, coastal or Great Lakes aquaculture.  Topical priorities for this FY 2016 competition are, briefly: a) Research to inform pending, regulatory decisions regarding aquaculture on the local, state, or federal level leading to an information product - such as tool, technology, template, or model - needed to make final decisions on a specific question; b) Research that supports the introduction, and/or increase in production of new and emerging species of aquaculture interest; c) Research that supports continued seafood safety and product quality; and d) Social and/or economic research targeted to understand aquaculture issues in a larger context. 
  • Pre-proposals must be received by email to the National Sea Grant Office by 5 p.m. EST March 10, 2016; full proposals are due to the state Sea Grant Program by 5 p.m. EST May 12, 2016.
  • More info

Events & Meetings

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.