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.
May 2016 - In This Issue:
Many of you know GCOOS and the rest of the U.S. observing system regional associations are required to become Regional Information Coordination Entities (RICEs) under the authority of the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System Act of 2009 (ICOOS Act). The ICOOS Act directs NOAA to certify and integrate RICEs into the U.S. IOOS. The act also establishes the roles of the RAs and ensures that the data we collect and distribute are managed according to best practices.

Later this summer, GCOOS will be making our formal application for certification. But there are a number of needs we must address before we can do so. One of them is the development of a strategic plan for the organization. While the Build Out Plan offers much guidance to staff and helps to give us goals and direction, the formal strategic plan will be a much broader document, covering everything from data management goals to what we'd like to accomplish through outreach and education. In addition to offering goals, it will also offer milestones that we can use to measure success.

At our recent annual meeting in New Orleans, we focused our closed sessions on getting started on this new strategic plan. Mel Briscoe, former Director of the National Ocean Service Global Ocean Observing System Project Office, was kind enough to offer his time to lead the sessions and help the board gain a better overview of the strategic planning process, clarify the work to be done, by whom, when and identify priorities, actions/outcomes and metrics to be used to assess progress.
Board members are working on the plan now with the goal of having a draft completed by mid-July. If you have any input you'd like to share, feel free to email me directly.   
Best regards, 

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 Helps Kids Learn Ocean Science

Since its inception, GCOOS has been the only regional observing system in the nation to provide continuous funding for outreach and education activities.

That support continues today as GCOOS staff and its members work to provide opportunities for youngsters to learn about ocean science.

In St. Petersburg, Fla., GCOOS Outreach and Education Manager Dr. Chris Simoniello helped to organize Bay Point Elementary School's Family Science Night with the theme "Ride the Tide" on April 28. More than 400 K-5 students had the chance to participate in hands-on activities at 10 stations. The stations followed the general pattern of the North Atlantic Gyre and activities were designed to support the outreach goals identified in the GCOOS Build-Out Plan.  

Students extracted DNA and created "Bottles of Awesomeness," played with polymers, learned about the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network, laminar and turbulent flow and the large-scale challenges of dealing with marine debris. GCOOS members participating in the event included scientists from the University of South Florida, Florida Sea Grant College Program, NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Duke Energy, Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center, Boyd Hill Nature Preserve and Bay Point Middle School Center for Advancement of the Sciences and Technology.

On May 5, GCOOS-RA Strategic Program Manager Stephanie Watson and partners from the University of Southern Mississippi Department of Marine Science, Louisiana Sea Grant, NOAA National Weather Service's National Data Buoy Center and The Marine Technology Society participated in the  PTA-sponsored Earth and Science Day at Pontchartrain Elementary School in Louisiana. The all-day event, organized by Watson, focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) activities presented to more than 800 students. Activities helped students understand the importance of studying and protecting oceans and waterways, exposed them to the sciences and provided region-specific inspiration for students interested in learning more. (Event coverage from St. Tammany's Channel 13 News.)

GCOOS was also at the Bayou La Batre Blessing of the Fleet in Alabama April 31 and May 1. Bayou La Batre, known as the Seafood Capitol of Alabama, is a small community where most residents work in fishing, shrimping, seafood processing or the boat-building industry. The town recently held its annual Blessing of the Fleet where the Archbishop blesses the fleet and festival-goers pray for a bountiful harvest and the safety of the men and women at sea. Thanks to the efforts of GCOOS partner Lei Hu, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, GCOOS was able to participate by hosting an outreach and education exhibit at the event. Festival-goers enjoyed the GCOOS Eco Hero game and a series of short films on the coastal environment, habitat restoration, nutrients and water quality, developed by the EPA, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance and GCOOS. They also learned about GCOOS Products and Data portals and the Mobile Bay Real-time Monitoring website. One visitor to the exhibit, Nancy Mcall, a member of the Bayou La Batre Planning Committee, was pleased to deliver GCOOS fliers to the city's town hall and expressed appreciation for the value of the scientific information and technology that also balanced local cultural traditions. According to Hu: "The public cares very much about the Gulf of Mexico. It is vital to their work, life, health and recreation. As soon as people saw the GCOOS logo, they asked questions and wanted to know more... many fishermen and boaters and would benefit from information on the GCOOS Products and Data portals." Perhaps the most poignant observation was her comment that "while our goal is to inform the public about the importance of data and information, we should also be ready to listen. Many visitors love to talk about their experience with the sea and with their boats.  They are quick to express their concerns about pollution and want to know what should be done to protect the environment."
GCOOS Board Meeting Report Online
The 22nd Meeting of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association (GCOOS-RA) and its Board of Directors was held March 30 through April 1 in New Orleans, La. In addition to hearing updates from GCOOS staff members and principal investigators, Board Directors began working on the organization's strategic plan, required as part of IOOS certification process. The Board report is now online and provides a summary of the meeting and the reports presented.
Partner News
$1 Million Nitrogen Reduction Challenge
Tulane University is tapping into the genius of worldwide entrepreneurs, researchers and inventors by offering a new and expanded $1 million Grand Challenge: the Tulane Nitrogen Reduction Challenge. This competition seeks innovative in-field solutions that will reduce crop fertilizers and runoff, with the goal of combating hypoxia and global "Dead Zones" in the world's lakes and oceans -- like the one that forms annually in the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Dead zones, or hypoxic areas, are caused by nutrient runoff from agricultural and other human activities and more than 550 occur annually worldwide. The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is the second largest human-caused hypoxic area in the world.
GOMA All-Hands Meeting Registration Deadline
Don't get caught without a place to stay for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance 2016 All Hands Meeting. The room reservation block is filling up fast and the reservation deadline is May 20. Meeting registration is required.
McClain Named New LUMCON Executive Director
The Louisiana Board of Regents in conjunction with the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) Executive Board is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Craig McClain as the new Executive Director of LUMCON. McClain serves as the Deputy Director of the Triangle Center for Evolution Medicine and formerly the Assistant Director of Science at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center both at Duke University where he oversaw the center's science programs. He will start July 1.
Mexico Universities and GOMURC Sign Agreement
Dr. Jose Manuel Pina Gutierrez (left), of the Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco, signed for CIIMAR-GOM and Dr. Christopher D'Elia of LSU  signed on behalf of GOMURC.
The Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative (GOMURC) and the Consortium of Marine Research Institutions of the Gulf of Mexico (CIIMAR-GOM) signed an agreement amendment to continue their partnership to support Gulf of Mexico environmental science and education.

The original MOU created in 2014 is now extended through 2017 and has helped forge closer ties among members of the science community by providing resources to enable students and scientists to attend science conferences in partner countries.

Oil and Gas Lease Sales

Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper recently announced that oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico have garnered $156 million in high bids for 128 tracts covering 693,962 acres in the Central Planning Area of the Outer Continental Shelf offshore of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Thirty offshore energy companies submitted 148 bids. BOEM offered nearly 45 million acres covering tracts in the Central and Eastern planning areas of the Gulf of Mexico. (No bids were received in the Eastern Planning Area.) Each bid will go through a 90-day evaluation process to ensure the public receives fair market value before a lease is awarded.
  • Details
  • GCOOS data portal has a map showing oil and gas wells and pipelines, petroleum lease data history, active/removed drilling platforms with marine jurisdictions and protected resources.
Leadership in Climate Outreach
Members of the Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach Community of Practice have selected Melissa Daigle, of the Louisiana Sea Grant Law and Policy Program, to receive the 2016 Spirit of Community Award in the individual category.
The group includes more than 300 education, outreach and extension professionals and community leaders and planners. Daigle is a resilience specialist and research counsel with the Louisiana Sea Grant Law and Policy Program who conducts outreach efforts for Louisiana coastal communities on sea-level rise, climate adaptation, flood insurance and other coastal resiliency issues.
Gulf Restoration News
Understanding the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Sea Grant programs are working together to help share Gulf oil spill research information with community leaders, resource managers and others to help them understand the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and ways to mitigate future oil spills. With an unprecedented amount of scientific research focusing on the spill, the outreach team has been identifying common questions and concerns, searching peer-reviewed literature for answers and synthesizing research findings to deliver pertinent scientific information to people who depend on a healthy Gulf.
Typically, the team shares simplified scientific research results through outreach publications and in-person and online seminars.
Mississippi DEQ Planning Grant
Gary Rikard, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), announced that Mississippi will receive a planning grant to develop projects and programs in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council) has awarded MDEQ a $1.4 million grant to develop and implement the Mississippi Planning State Expenditure Plan (MSEP), which will consist of projects and programs for funding in the three coastal counties in accordance with the Oil Spill Impact Component, or Bucket 3, of the RESTORE Act.
Deepwater Spill and Tourism
The Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management has released a new technical report analyzing how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacted many tourism-related businesses such as hotels, restaurants, retailers and tour operators. Investigators analyzed DWH claims, news reports, employment data and conducted interviews with people involved in the tourism industry. Spill impacts spread across geographic areas and the extent of the impacts on people and businesses were shaped by various factors, including the structure of an area's economy, clean-up activities, the reparations process and public perception. Tourism rebounded after the initial decline and employment was relatively stable in most areas following DWH.
Charting Restoration: Five Years after Deepwater Horizon
Gulf restoration is off to a good start, according to a new report by The Nature Conservancy, which released "Charting Restoration."

The report analyzes existing strategic restoration plans from multiple federal, state and local agencies, nonprofit organizations and coalitions to identify and map restoration priorities across the Gulf. The report then compares the findings to the BP-related money that has been distributed to date.

The report identifies more than 1,200 priority needs along the Gulf Coast, shows overlap between agencies, nonprofits and coalitions in terms of which areas are priorities for restoration, identifies the 116 projects that have been funded through the Gulf restoration process so far and compares them to the identified priorities.
Restoration Resources
Restoration Funding Calendar
  • NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program hosts a three-year calendar that consolidates planned funding opportunities
By State:

Employment Opportunities
Marine Resources Commission 
The Marine Resources Commission is seeking a Marine Fisheries Operations Manager to manage the collection, analysis and interpretations of fisheries data and information and the use of such information in developing fisheries plans, reports and presentations affecting marine fisheries management.
  • Application deadline May 24
  • Details
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Gulf Research Program
NAS has openings in the Gulf Research Program for a Senior Financial and Administrative Officer, a Communications Manager and a Senior Program Assistant.
Sea Grant
The Sea Grant Oil Spill Science Outreach Program in the Gulf of Mexico seeks a science communicator for a three-year, limited-term position. The position is hosted at the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium and will serve all four Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant College Programs. The position is funded by a three-year grant with the potential for continuation based on performance and the additional allocation of funds by the granting entity.
  • Details  Click "employment" and "job opportunities." Then search for posting number 0003972.

Galveston Bay Foundation
The Galveston Bay Foundation is seeking a Water Quality Marketing and Outreach Coordinator. This position requires a passion for and background in environmental science and the desire to drive behavior change through marketing campaigns and outreach programs. Marketing, graphic design, and/or digital media experience preferred.

Funding & Related Opportunities
Capacity Building Grants
Are you working to improve coastal environments, health and well-being? Join Gulf Research Program staff at 2 p.m. EST on May 26 to learn more about the program's new capacity building grants and the award year 2016 topic: "Enhancing Community Networks that Improve Coastal Environments, Health, and Well-being." During the webinar, staff will also provide an overview of the application process and answer questions from participants. Registration is required to attend the webinar, which will last about an hour.

New Scholarships for UF Graduate Students
Florida Sea Grant and the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station are offering a $10,000 per year scholarship to a University of Florida graduate student working on natural resource research on the Nature Coast, the broad stretch of the state's Gulf Coast from Wakulla County to Hernando County. The Scholarship will be awarded to an outstanding student who conducts applied research in the region, working to solve an issue related to fisheries, aquaculture, community resilience or coastal ecosystems. Eligible students must have matching funds of $10,000 per year from their graduate adviser.
  • Application deadline is June 15
  • Details

Events & Meetings


Mollusks in Peril, May 22-24, Bailey-Mathews Shell Museum, Sanibel Island, Fla. The confernece will bring together the country's foremost experts on current large-scale threats to molluscan populations to discuss the callenges facing the second most diverse group of animals on earth.


GCOOS-RA Board of Directors meeting, Sept. 21-23. Houston, TX.

Other Gulf-Related Events
Have a meeting 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.