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.

November 2015 - In This Issue:


Greetings!
There has been a lot going on at GCOOS recently with meetings about iTAG, climate change and more. But I wanted to take a minute to wish a fond farewell and huge thank you to Landry Bernard, who served as Associate Executive Director for the GCOOS-RA for the last two years. Landry tirelessly promoted the GCOOS mission to agencies and organizations, especially in the Stennis, Miss., area. We know his dedication to the importance of having a strong ocean observing system will cross into any new endeavors he pursues. Thank you Landry!  

P.S. We recently updated the look of our eNewsletter & added in a table of contents so you could quickly page down to the stories you wanted to read. Please let us know what you think!
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
New NSF-Funded Project Will Help Ensure Data Quality, Sharing in the Gulf of Mexico and Beyond
On any given day, there are some 1,900 sensors collecting data about the Gulf of Mexico and many thousands more outside the region, feeding it back to researchers throughout the world.

The information collected is used to enhance weather and boating forecasts, aid shipping and navigation and even track harmful algal blooms that could affect the health of coastal residents. The data is also used to track long-term trends such as sea level rise and climate change.

The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) is one of many data centers that gathers this information in central data portals and streams it out to industry, researchers, resource managers and the public with the goal of providing timely, reliable and accurate information about coastal and open ocean waters.
But how do the people putting the data to work judge the accuracy and reliability of the information they're using? A new National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project will develop the tools and the social and technical infrastructure to gather this "metadata" - the data about the sensors - so end users know where the information came from and how it was collected. The project will make this metadata easily discoverable, searchable and available to be incorporated into automated archival systems so users have a better understanding of the data's quality and can use it appropriately.

The two-year pilot project is being led by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and research partners from GCOOS/Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, the University of California, Santa Barbara, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and Botts Innovative Research, Inc., and builds upon a previously developed model (called Q2O).

The project called EarthCube IA: Collaborative Proposal: Cross-Domain Observational Metadata Environmental Sensing Network, or X-DOMES, is part of a wider initiative between the NSF Directorate for Geosciences and the Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure called EarthCube. EarthCube is a community-led cyberinfrastructure initiative for the geosciences that supports teams who create, assess and align frameworks for sharing data and knowledge in an open and inclusive manner to enable an integrated understanding of the Earth system. EarthCube began in 2011 and is expected to last until 2022. The project will build on existing domain vocabulary that sensor manufacturers and researchers can use and will facilitate the aggregation and analyses of data from various sensors. The tools, including modules to communicate to the registry and SensorML from MatLab and guides for sensor manufacturers and researchers, will be published via a project website

"This pilot project, if successful, could lead to products that will allow scientists to better understand data emanating from these sensors so they can explore issues like data discrepancies or how current observations can be used in conjunction with historical records to conclude a statistical trend," said Co-Investigator Felimon Gayanilo, GCOOS Systems Architect and a researcher at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi's Harte Research Institute. "It should also help scientists, among others, figure out what could be causing differences in reports coming from neighboring sensors."

The project will leverage existing relationships with NSF-funded data management programs, EarthCube, the ESIP Federation and environmental sensor manufacturers to establish a community with a unified approach to sensor description and allow for the automated recording and extraction of sensor-related metadata, he said. "Enhancing existing metadata tools and developing new software products will help researchers and scientists answer the commonly asked questions: How was this data recorded? What sensor or method was used to generate the data? Or even, how did we arrive at this data?"
GCOOS-GOMA Partnership Creates New Hypoxia-Nutrient Data Portal for the Gulf 
In partnership with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, GCOOS has nearly completed a project that incorporates nutrient and hypoxia datasets into our Data Portal, available at  http://data.gcoos.org/nutrients/.
 
The goal of this partnership was to develop easy access to nutrient and hypoxia-related data for diverse stakeholders in the Gulf of Mexico. The new portal aggregates information from multiple sources to support informed strategies that will reduce nutrient inputs and hypoxia impacts to Gulf coastal ecosystems.
 
Parameters for the portal include current and historical datasets related to dissolved oxygen, dissolved nitrogen, phosphate compounds and many others. The project extends from the inshore waters of estuaries to the continental shelf break of the five U.S. Gulf states. A Hypoxia Decision Support Tool allows users to inspect base maps of observation locations down to the station level.
 
The Hypoxia-Nutrient Data Portal is the first of its kind in the region. GCOOS is committed to maintaining the resource. The project is the result of a Gulf of Mexico Alliance supplemental grant program initiated in 2013. The Data and Monitoring and Water Resources Teams are partners in this project.
iTAG Workshop & Data Portal Update
Bob Currier-itagworkshop Research scientists and resource managers have been tagging animal species throughout the Gulf of Mexico for years. Using acoustic and satellite tags, they have begun unlocking key information about the habitats where species spend their lives and about the threats animals face in the water. But often, researchers have receivers in discreet areas and host data individually.
 
Now, a half-dozen groups are coming together to expand the number of underwater receivers that are in the Gulf and develop arrays in key areas to provide a better regional view of animals and their habitat use. The collaboration enables tracking data to be more widely shared and supports habitat and species restoration, especially following environmental disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The effort is called the Integrated Tracking of Aquatic Animals in the Gulf of Mexico -- or iTAG.

The team recently held their second meeting in St. Petersburg recently and GCOOS-RA's Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, Dr. Chris Simoniello and Bob Currier attended. Currier shared the beta version of the iTAG website developed for the Gulf tagging community and hosted on GCOOS' Data Portal. The site was developed based on needs identified by the iTAG community the previous year.

While Currier was demonstrating the site, participants received immediate confirmation of its value: Upon seeing the orphan tag database, conference attendee Dr. Jayne Gardner, of New College, recognized codes from tags she had placed on several blacktip sharks in Tera Ceia Bay, Tampa. They had gone missing, but showed up as tags found by another researcher. Learn more and stay current at iTag's Facebook site.
Science Really is Fun: GCOOS Outreach and Education
In addition to her work expanding GCOOS audiences and developing programs for citizen-science participation in coastal observing systems, GCOOS-RA Outreach & Education Coordinator Dr. Chris Simoniello also has frequent opportunities to conduct outreach programs for kids. Recently, she hosted the Spooky Science Festival at Bay Point Elementary School in St. Pete, as well as the St. Pete Science Festival, which marked its fifth anniversary.
For the Sneak-Peek Day of the Festival, Simoniello worked with Dr. Mya Breibart, USF, to develop hands-on activities that raise awareness and understanding of the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) project (Dr. Frank Muller-Karger, USF, is project lead). More than 125 students from 10 schools simulated the sampling protocol for eDNA analysis and used field guides to decode their nucleotides sequences. The next day, Simoniello and SECOORA's Abbey Wakely and Vembu Subramanian and USF colleagues Jeff Scudder, Jay Law and Chad Lembke showcased regional observations and applications for more than 25,000 visitors.
SpookyScience2015     StPeteSciFestival2015 
Reminder: Great American Teach-In
American Education Week takes place Nov. 16-20 with the Great American Teach-In set for Nov. 19. AEW presents Americans with the opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education. During the Teach-In, v
olunteers are given the opportunity to share information with students about their careers, experiences and community involvement. Many Gulf states have activities taking place. Contact Dr. Chris Simoniello for info on how you can get involved in your community. 

Partner News
New Interactive, Free iBook Targeting K-8 Explores What's Under the Sea Floor  
Where Wild Microbes Grow is a new children's interactive iBook -- complete wildmicrobes with pop-up videos and photos -- about the search for life under the seafloor. Kids explore microbes, metabolism and what it's like to be a researcher. They also learn how scientists are discovering amazing creatures that may help us find life on other planets. Written in rhyming verse by Kevin Kurtz and illustrated by Alice Feagan, in consultation with Dr. Jason Sylvan, Assistant Professor in TAMU's Department of Oceanography. The iBook is published by JOIDES Resolution.
State of the Coast Abstracts & Session Proposals Deadline Nov. 30
The 2016 State of the Coast Conference -- the fourth iteration of the largest state-wide conference of its kind providing an interdisciplinary forum to exchange timely and relevant information on the dynamic conditions of Louisiana's coastal communities, environment, and economy -- is accepting abstracts and session proposals through thorugh 9 a.m. Nov. 30. The Conference is June 1-3, 2016, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
 
The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL), The Water Institute of the Gulf and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA) partner to produce this forum, the need for which grows with every acre of land lost to the Gulf.
Good Read: Update on Ocean Observing Worldwide
Ocean News & Technology's September issue features a worldwide survey on ocean observatory activities contributed by the Ocean Observing Systems Committee of the Marine Technology Society.

This seventh annual update spans Europe to North America and Asia to Oceana and includes highlights of NOAA's National Ocean Service Project.

"As ocean observing systems continue to mature, we see
a variety of technologies and methods used collectively to provide more integrated, effective and reliable systems capable of reporting not just over regional scales but also over global scales, which is ultimately needed for understanding our planet's
ocean systems and processes," writes MTS President-Elect Donna M. Kocak of the HARRIS Corporation in the magazine's editorial section.

"Shore stations, coastal radars, submerged moorings, moored buoys, cabled observatories, remotely operated vehicles, mobile autonomous platforms, ships, vessels of opportunity, satellites and even marine mammals are all used to support sensors that collect valuable data. Alliances are essential, both domestic and abroad, to share information across oceans or boundaries as custodians; or to transfer technologies, share lessons learned and provide training in mentor-protégé relationships."
New Mote Underwater Robot "Genie" Deployed to Monitor HABs & More
Mote Marine Laboratory's newest robotic glider -- nicknamed "Genie" by Manatee County, Fla., 5th-graders who won Mote's naming contest -- started its first underwater mission Nov. 9 offshore of northern Sarasota County. Genie will gather data useful for many kinds of ocean observing and research, including studies of the ongoing Florida red tide.
 
The glider's name honors Dr. Eugenie Clark, the world-renowned "Shark Lady" who founded Mote in 1955 and died in 2015. The name was chosen by 5th-grade science students at Annie Lucy Williams Elementary School in Parrish, Fla., during Mote's naming contest among nine classes from five Sarasota-Manatee schools. The winning students will receive tickets to Mote Aquarium and participate in a video chat with the scientist operating Genie.

Genie the AUV is carrying instruments that can monitor the abundance of  phytoplankton, including the toxic algae K. brevis, which causes Florida red tides that can be harmful to marine life and people. Genie's instruments also monitor water temperature; depth; salinity; CDOM, colored dissolved organic matter, which can indicate runoff from land that might govern phytoplankton growth, and turbidity, which can indicate sediments being re-suspended in the water and that could be influencing algal blooms. In addition, Genie carries an acoustic receiver designed to detect fish tagged by researchers. This will help Mote scientists and others study fish migration patterns.

Data from Genie will be hosted at GCOOS' online data portal and reported at
Gulf of Mexico Shark Tagging Expedition Featured on CBS This Morning

The 2nd shark of the expedition is tagged & pinging in. Joseph is a 10 foot tiger shark named by fans of Cat Products after a town in Texas. Track Joseph on the Global Shark Tracker at http://www.ocearch.org/profile/joseph/. Photo by OCEARCH.
The special Gulf of Mexico shark tagging expedition underway right now was featured on CBS This Morning on Friday.
The expedition joins the Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and leading shark-tracking nonprofit OCEARCH in an effort to build the most extensive shark-tagging program in the Gulf of Mexico region.

Other contributing organizations include Mote Marine Laboratory, University of South Alabama & Dauphin Island Sea Lab, University of North Florida and the National Institute of Polar Research in Japan.

Gulf Restoration News
Coming Up: Deadline for Comments on the DWH Restoration Plan & Settlement
The deadline is quickly approaching for comments to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Draft Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan and Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. While the
plan does not identify specific projects for each of the 13 restoration types, it lays out a framework for developing future project-specific restoration plans.  

Trustees have also hosted public meetings where they have accepted comments on the draft plan and the proposed settlement with BP. The final public meeting is from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, in Washington, D.C. Comments are being gathered online through Dec. 4, 2015.

It's important for GCOOS members to note that despite the various funding sources resulting from the Deepwater Horizon disaster and subsequent proposed settlements, no new observations have been added to the Gulf of Mexico. That means if another spill happened today, we would not have any improved resources to track its location and movement. That's why GCOOS is working hard to help Gulf of Mexico decision makers understand and support the need for ocean observations by dedicating some of the funds to observation platforms and support for ongoing operations. Please consider this when making your comments about the proposed settlement. 
New Website: Texas OneGulf
Texas OneGulf is a partnership of nine outstanding institutions dedicated to the long-term environmental and economic health of both the state of Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. Led by the Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas OneGulf has a wide-ranging expertise in the environment, the economy and human health.

Partners include GCOOS-RA, Marine Biology, Science and Engineering Departments at Texas A&M University at Galveston; Geochemical and Environmental Research Group, Department of Oceanography of Texas A&M University; Marine & Coastal Sciences and Environment & Earth Science, School of Multidisciplinary Studies, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; Sealy Center for Environmental Health and Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch; The Meadows Center for Water and Environment, Texas State University; and The Center for U.S. and Mexican Law, University of Houston Law Center

New Educational Materials About Gulf Restoration
The Environmental Law Foundation has developed a new set of educational materials about Gulf Restoration. The short, 1-2-page, easy-to-understand fact sheets and materials are targeted at people who are unfamiliar with the restoration processes and they should be useful to community leaders and groups in education and outreach efforts surrounding the BP oil spill.

The materials include:
  • BP Oil Spill Main Funding Processes: An overview of the three main restoration processes: the natural resource damage assessment (NRDA), RESTORE Act, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) funds
  • Natural Resource Damage Assessment: Provides an overview of the natural resource damage assessment process 
  • RESTORE Act: An overview of the RESTORE Act processes
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation: An overview of funds going to this foundation
  • Tips for Public Commenting: An overview on how to make written and verbal comments

View the Materials 

New Study: Oil Dispersants Can Suppress Natural Oil-Degrading Microorganisms 
Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, studies the oil plumes generated by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout. Photo by Todd Dickey/Univerisity of Georgia.
The use of chemical dispersants meant to stimulate microbial crude oil degradation can in some cases inhibit the microorganisms that naturally degrade hydrocarbons, according to a new study led by University of Georgia marine scientists. Their findings are based on laboratory-simulated conditions that mimic Gulf of Mexico deep waters immediately following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined microbial oil degradation in the Deepwater plume, simulating oil concentrations and dispersants concentrations observed during the incident. The team found that the presence of dispersants significantly altered the microbial composition of Gulf deep water by promoting the growth of Colwellia, a group of microorganisms capable of dispersant degradation.

However, when oil alone was added to parallel samples in the absence of chemical dispersants, the growth of natural hydrocarbon-degrading Marinobacter was stimulated. "These compelling results show the naturally occurring communities of oil-degrading microorganisms, especially Marinobacter, are quite proficient at degrading oil and that oil biodegradation was more efficient in the absence of chemical dispersants," said the study's lead author Samantha Joye, Georgia Athletic Association Professor of Arts and Sciences.

This research was supported by the Ecosystem Impact of Oil and Gas Inputs to the Gulf (ECOGIG) research consortium, which is funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.

Restoration Resources
Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker
 
By State:

Employment Opportunities
Texas A&M at Galveston
Inviting applications for a tenure-track Assistant/Associate Professor position in the area of Marine Mammalogy.  We seek an individual with a Ph.D. whose research complements that of faculty in the Department of Marine Biology. Preference will be given to applicants with expertise in acoustics, behavioral ecology, fisheries interactions, or any organismal aspects of marine mammalogy. We are particularly interested in recruiting someone who has developed innovative research approaches to the field and who will be comfortable developing multidisciplinary partnerships with other research groups across the university. Teaching responsibilities will include a course in marine mammalogy and advanced courses in the candidate's area of specialization. The successful applicant will be expected to establish and sustain a vigorous externally funded research program as well as mentor under-graduate and graduate students. Salary commensurate with qualifications and experience.

Applications should be received by Nov. 30, 2015, for full consideration. Anticipated start date is fall 2016. To apply, send a curriculum vitae, statement of current research and teaching interests and list of three references with contact information to: Chair, Marine Biology Search Committee PAR # 3822, c/o Human Resources Department, Texas A&M University at Galveston, P.O. Box 1675, 200 Seawolf Parkway, Galveston, TX, 77553-1675 or by email referencing PAR # 3822 ([email protected]).
For more information regarding the position, contact: Department Head of Marine Biology, Dr. John R. Schwarz.  Employment is contingent upon successful completion of a background check and verification of eligibility to work in the U.S. Texas A & M University at Galveston is an Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action/ Veterans/ Disability Employer.
New Fellowship: Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology
NIST-IMET seeks applicants for the Graduate Fellowship for Environmental Biotechnology. The Material Measurement Laboratory (MML) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) of the University of Maryland (UM) recognize the importance of having workplace diversity to ensure a range of perspectives within the organization. However, there continues to be under-representation of several groups entering graduate study in the fields of biology and environmental science, which encompass key professional disciplines at both organizations.

To increase diversity among students pursuing Ph.D. degrees in these fields and to ensure workplace diversity in the future, a joint NIST-IMET Fellowship for Environmental Biotechnology has been formed.
The NIST-IMET Fellowship for Environmental Biotechnology will be made possible through support from the NIST Material Measurement Laboratory (MML) and IMET. One fellow will be chosen annually through a formal competition.

National Ocean Service 
The NOS National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science is seeking a Program Manager for the Ecosystem Effects of Sea Level Rise Program.
Please note that the two links below are for the same vacancy but the difference is that one is for all candidates who are U.S. citizens or foreign nationals and the other announcement is for current federal employees, some past federal employees and veterans. It's important to apply under the appropriate announcement.
McGill University  
The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at McGill University is seeking
outstanding applicants for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position to strengthen its component
in physical oceanography. The successful applicant will be expected to develop an active
research program, supervise graduate students, and teach a variety of undergraduate and graduate
courses. A Ph.D. in physical oceanography or a closely related field is required.

Details
Other Opportunities
Visit Ocean Leadership for more job postings in the marine field.
Funding & Related Opportunities
BOEM Invites Ideas for Environmental Studies, Fiscal Year 2017
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is inviting input to identify potential study ideas for consideration on Alaska, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific OCS areas. BOEM's Environmental Studies Program is particularly interested in ideas that include hypothesis testing and the opportunity to include a citizen-science component. Please note that ideas submitted must be relevant to BOEM's information requirements in the areas of biological, oceanographic, social, economic and cultural research.
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.
Gulf of Mexico B-WET Program
The National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Region (Fisheries Southeast Regional Office) is seeking proposals under the Gulf of Mexico B-WET Program. The Gulf of Mexico B-WET program is a competitive, environmental education, grants program that promotes locally relevant, experiential learning in the K-12 environment. Funded projects provide Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) for students, related professional development for teachers, and help to support regional education and environmental priorities in the Gulf of Mexico. This program addresses NOAA's Long-Term Goal of "Healthy Oceans: Marine fisheries, habitats, and biodiversity are sustained within healthy and productive ecosystems" and "NOAA's Engagement Enterprise Objective for An engaged and educated public with an improved capacity to make scientifically informed environmental decisions."
Events & Meetings
November
10th Biannual International Marine and Coastal  Science Conference, 16-20 November 2015, Havana, Cuba.


2015 National Working Waterfronts and Waterways Symposium, 16-19 November 2015, Tampa, FL
  
December

American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, 14-18 December 2015, San Francisco, CA

2016

January

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

February
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.