GCOOS News & Updates for July 2015

Greetings from GCOOS

In addition to the news items below, please visit our Website, http://gcoos.org, our real-time Data Portal, http://data.gcoos.org and Products page, http://gcoos.org/products/ for more information, data and products information.


Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System News 

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GCOOS-RA at the 2015 GOMA All Hands Meeting

     The GCOOS-RA had a strong presence at the 2015 GOMA All Hands Meeting, 16-19 June 2015, in Biloxi, Miss. Drs. Barb Kirkpatrick, Matt Howard and Chris Simoniello, and Stephanie Watson participated in Priority Issue Team meetings, facilitated sessions and presented during the conference. Watson and Simoniello's talk, GCOOS Build-out Plan: Update and Ideas for the GOMA Data and Monitoring Team, can be found at

The meeting and subsequent activities are focused on developing Action Plan III.



GCOOS Outreach and Education Council to Hold Annual Meeting

     The GCOOS OEC will hold its annual meeting at the Hilton Riverside, New Orleans, LA, 11-12 August 2015. The meeting will focus on activities linked to the launching of the GCOOS Citizen Science database developed with input from the team, the GIS expertise of Dr. Shin Kobara, and project partners from the Florida Aquarium, Nature's Academy, Fla., and the Galveston Bay Foundation, Texas. GCOOS Outreach and Education Manager, Dr. Chris Simoniello, is working with Council Co-Chairs Chris Verlinde, Florida Sea Grant, and Charlene Mauro, Navarre Beach Marine Science Center, to finalize an agenda that celebrates the 10-Year Anniversary of the GCOOS-RA.


New Book On Ocean Technology Highlights GCOOS Efforts

     Ocean Solutions, Earth Solutions, a new book from Esri Press, chronicles how more than 50 ocean and coastal science researchers use geographic information system (GIS) tools and other technologies to study, manage, and protect the ocean and precious marine life.

     Ocean Solutions, Earth Solutions includes 16 peer-reviewed papers presented in chapters that showcase the latest and best ocean and coastal science using spatial analysis and GIS. GCOOS is featured in Chapter 16: "Near Real-Time Oceanic Glider Mission Viewers" by Shinichi Kobara, Christina Simoniello, Ruth Mullins-Perry, Ann Elizabeth Jochens, Matthew K. Howard, Stephanie M. Watson and Stephan Howden.

     The chapter describes how the GCOOS data portal was designed to aggregate and integrate data and model output from distributed providers and offer these and derived products through a single access point in standardized ways to diverse users. One important outcome was the development of a web map application using the ArcGIS platform to show data acquired from the glider deployments. For more please see http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=9394.  


This underwater acoustic receiver was deployed south of Key West this summer. Photo courtsey Rachel Pawlitz, NOAA.
Public-Private Partnership Seeks to Expand Underwater Acoustic Arrays Off Florida and Texas

     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 on the water.
     But often, researchers have receivers in discreet areas and host data individually.
     Now, a half-dozen groups are coming together to try 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, to more widely share tracking data and to work on habitat and species restoration, especially following environmental disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The effort is called the Integrated Tracking of Aquatic Organisms in the Gulf of Mexico - or iTAG.
The partnership includes the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System-Regional Association (GCOOS-RA), Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA), the University of South Alabama, Texas A&M University and the Ocean Tracking Network (OTN). Canadian-based OTN helps develop acoustic telemetry projects around the world by providing acoustic receivers and expertise. They are loaning underwater receivers worth $500,000 to FWC - which is leading the iTAG effort. Dr. Jay Rooker (Texas A&M), Dr. Will Patterson (USA) and Dr. Susan Lowerre-Barbieri (FWC) will oversee the receiver arrays deployed throughout the Gulf of Mexico and in the Florida Keys and are in the process of seeking additional funding to support this research. For more on this please visit http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=9383

Gulf Restoration News 

Texas First State in the Nation to Receive Funding from RESTORE Trust Fund for Centers of Excellence

     TCEQ Commissioner Toby Baker announced that Texas is the first state in the nation to receive money from the RESTORE Trust Fund through a federal award that will fund two Centers of Excellence. The two centers, Texas OneGulf at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and the Subsea Systems Institute at the University of Houston, will share an initial $4.036 million.

The Texas OneGulf Center of Excellence is being led by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and includes the Center for Translational Environmental Health Research, Texas A&M University-College Station; Texas A&M University-Galveston; the University of Texas at Brownsville; Texas State University;, the University of Houston Law Center; the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association; and the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston.

     The Texas OneGulf consortium will assemble experts from Texas institutions focused on marine science and human health to promote collaborative, multi-disciplinary research, synthesis, and problem solving concentrating on the Gulf of Mexico. Their research will foster sustainable and resilient growth, as well as economic and commercial development in the coastal region.

     The Subsea Systems Institute Center of Excellence is being led by the University of Houston and includes Rice University, the NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas Southern University, Houston Community College, and Lone Star Community College. Subsea Systems Institute will study offshore energy development with a focus on science and technology to establish policy and best practices for safe and responsible energy development in the Gulf.

     The funds supporting the Centers of Excellence amount to 2.5 percent of the RESTORE Trust Fund, derived from administrative and civil penalties paid by those responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The role of these centers could expand as more money is devoted to the fund. As required by the U.S. Treasury Department, the federal agency overseeing the centers, the Subsea Systems Institute and Texas OneGulf were selected competitively, in accord with state statute and regulations used by the TCEQ when awarding grants.

The GCOOS-RA is eager to begin assembly and open distribution of data and products resulting from Texas OneGulf activities.

More: RestoreTheTexasCoast.org.


Billboard Tracks Public Participation Periods for Restoration

     The Environmental Law Institute's Ocean Program has launched a "Public Participation Bulletin Board" for Gulf restoration projects for each state and the Gulf as a whole. This new website tracks public comment periods for the three main restoration processes: the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA), RESTORE Act, and National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).

     The site even includes some general guidelines on making comments and community participation. See http://eli-ocean.org/gulf/the-bulletin-board/.

      Please consider supporting the need for new and sustained funding for coastal ocean observing systems and tools - like High Frequency Radar - as appropriate. For information on GCOOS's needs for the next five years, please see our build-out plan at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/BuildOut/BuildOutPlan-V2-1.pdf.


NOAA Ship Continues Deepwater Horizon Spill Study

     NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson departed Galveston, Texas, 15 June to continue research on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill's impact on the Gulf of Mexico. During the three-week mission, the research vessel will use sophisticated acoustic and water chemistry monitoring instruments to detect and map submerged oil in coastal areas and in the deep water surrounding the BP well head.

For more on this see https://www.restorethegulf.gov/release/2015/07/01/update-noaa-ship-thomas-jefferson-continues-deepwater-horizon-spill-study-mission.


DWH Projects

     Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker: http://www.dwhprojecttracker.org/.


RESTORE Centers of Excellence

Florida: FIO is coordinating a Centers of Excellence Research Grant Program and has not yet announced awards. Read more at http://www.fio.usf.edu/research/restore-act.

Alabama: Proposals were due 30 June 2015. More info: http://www.alabamacoastalrestoration.org/.

Mississippi: Applications for MS RESTORE Center of Excellence were due at the end of April 2015. Reviews ongoing. http://www.restore.ms/ .

Louisiana: Public comments on the administrative policies for the Center of Excellence grants are being reviewed. http://coastal.la.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/COE-Policies-2015_Final2.pdf.

Texas: The Texas Centers of Excellence were announced back in January. Visit the Texas OneGulf Consortium online at http://www.harteresearchinstitute.org/tx-onegulf.


More Restoration Resources

Florida: Department of Environmental Protection http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/ or Gulf Consortium website at http://www.fl-counties.com/advocacy/gulf-consortium. See the Florida DEP presentation on the next National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund cycle at http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon/files2/nfwf/nfwf_public_webinar_march2015.pdf.

Alabama: Information & project submissions: http://www.alabamacoastalrestoration.org/.

Mississippi: Review proposed projects under Early Restoration: http://www.restore.ms/early-restoration-draft-phase-iv-early-restoration-plan-and-environmental-assessments-2/.  

Louisiana: Has approved the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Plan, providing $884 million in expenditures for coastal protection and restoration projects in fiscal year 2016. Online at http://us9.campaign-archive1.com/?u=3d6138b29e4223c069af96595&id=f35916e780&e=dba642d0ee.

Texas: Info & project submission https://www.restorethetexascoast.org/.



     Oil Impacts on Coastal Environments

Sea Grant's Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Outreach Team is offering a series of free seminars/webinars in Florida and Louisiana. Seminars are free, but registration is required. Those who can't attend in person may view the webinars online. Listing of speakers and presentations at https://gulfseagrant.wordpress.com/oilspilloutreach/presentations/.


     Impacts of Oil on Florida Coastal Habitats

About the effects of oil on salt marshes, wetlands, mangroves, and beaches.

1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET, Wednesday, 22 July at 13051 North Telecom Parkway, Temple Terrace, FL 33637

     Navigating Shifting Sands: Oil on our beaches

Answering lingering questions about oil that washed up on Alabama and Florida beaches during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT Wednesday, 5 August at the J. Earle Bowden Building, 120 Church St., Pensacola, Fla.

     Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to Gulf Wetlands

Ecosystem effects, impacts to marsh life and shoreline response and restoration.

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT Wednesday, 11 August at Slidell Municipal Auditorium, Slidell, La.

Other happenings around the Gulf: http://www.gulfofmexicoalliance.org/announcements/events/.

Gulf of Mexico Regional News 

BP Settlement Announced
     The Gulf states and BP have reached an $18.7 million settlement agreement to resolve litigation over the amount BP owes in federal Clean Water Act penalties. A final agreement will take the form of a proposed consent decree that will be submitted for public comment and then court approval. The process of getting from the current agreement in principle to a proposed consent decree likely will take several months.
     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.
     Under the agreement, BP would pay $5.5 billion to the federal government over 15 years and pay $7.1 billion under the Natural Resource Damage Assessment. Another $5.9 billion would resolve claims by state and local governments. Here is the breakdown on how the states will fare, according to the Associated Press:
*    Alabama, $2.3 billion.
*    Florida, $3.25 billion.
*    Louisiana, at least $6.8 billion and a share of $600 million BP has agreed to set aside to pay for assessing environmental damage and other state expenses.
*    Mississippi, about $2.2 billion.
*    Texas, more than $788 million
Summary breakdown from the U.S. Department of Justice: http://www.justice.gov/opa/file/625141/download
Read the statement from US Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Information from the New York Times.
Nutrient-based hypoxia formation. Courtesy of Nancy Rabalais, LUMCON.

Average-Sized Dead Zone Predicted for the Gulf

     This year's Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone is predicted to be approximately 5,483 square miles, or about the size of Connecticut - the same as it has averaged over the last several years, according to ensemble models developed by NOAA-sponsored modeling teams and researchers.
     The hypoxia forecast is part of a larger NOAA effort to deliver ecological forecasts that support human health and well-being, coastal economies and coastal and marine stewardship. The hypoxia forecast has improved steadily in recent years, thanks to advances in individual models and an increase in the number of models used for the forecast.
     The models used in this ensemble forecast were developed by the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences/College of William and Mary, Texas A&M University, North Carolina State University, and the United States Geological Survey (USGS). 

More info: http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/news/?p=15609.


Black corals and octocorals in deepwater communities. Photo courtesy Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

BOEM Seeking Nominations for New Offshore Energy Advisory Committee

     The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Academy of Sciences are partnering to develop a new standing committee on environmental science and assessment for offshore energy and mineral resources. The National Research Council, the operating arm of the NAS, is seeking 15 committee members to serve 1-year terms who have expertise in the following areas:

  • Biology: ecology and habitat, avian and bat resources, fish resources, invertebrate resources, benthic resources, threatened and endangered species and other marine mammals;
  • Oceanography and Atmospheric Science: currents and eddies, water chemistry and quality, meteorology and air quality, sea ice, geology;
  • Social Science and Economics: archaeology, sociology, economics, cultural resources;
  • Fates and Effects: sediment disturbance, noise, electromagnetic fields, oil spills, contaminants and toxicity; and
  • Multi-disciplinary: climate change, engineering, human health, modeling, monitoring, protocols and frameworks, policy, mitigation and remediation, beach nourishment, facilitation of scientific discussion, application of science to policy.

     The committee will meet several times a year, and may conduct workshops, studies or peer review documents relevant to BOEM's environmental programs. The work will be advisory and limited to relevant independent and objective advice. It will not include recommendations on policy or management decisions.

Topics and activities the committee may explore include:

  • Strategic approaches to environmental monitoring to assess ecosystem health and mitigation effectiveness
  • Stakeholder discussions on controversial issues
  • Reviews of proposed BOEM studies
  • High-level reviews and expert advice on gaps and priorities for research
  • Technical input related to BOEM's environmental programs
  • Enhancing understanding of innovation in science and technology

     BOEM's Environmental Studies Program develops, funds and manages scientific research to inform policy decisions on the development of energy and mineral resources on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Here are the details on the New Offshore Energy Committee

Nomination form: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/2152589/OSB-BOEM-Standing-Committee-Nominations.

Mote Seeks Input on Beaches Report

     Mote Marine Laboratory is seeking public feedback on its Beach Conditions Reporting System. BCRS provides twice-daily or daily updates on conditions like wave height, wind direction, surf conditions, presence of seaweed or dead fish, rip currents, cautionary lifeguard flags and respiratory irritation due to the harmful algal bloom Florida red tide. Mote scientists created the report to help the public adjust their beach choices during red tides, and the system's variety of information has since become a valuable resource at all times.

Online at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1fTRzAH91cGZbkuV9pcD_R72GI-W10NvDeWo9KDdB3kg/viewform?edit_requested=true.

Ocean Sciences Meeting: Ocean Observing and Data Management Session

     An Ocean Observing and Data Management Session has been scheduled during the 2016 Ocean Sciences Meeting from 21-26 February in New Orleans. Session Title: Evolving Biologically-Enabled Ocean Observing Systems:  Integrating Biological Observations with Physicochemical Measurements for Informed Ecosystem-Based Decision Making. Abstract submission will open on 20 July at http://osm.agu.org/2016/abstract-submissions/.

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, 23 September (23:59 EDT/03:59+1 GMT). 

IOOS/National/Legislative News 

NOAA Seeking Applicants for Hydrographic Services Review Panel

     This federal advisory committee advises the NOAA administrator on the agency's hydrographic programs, products and technology. The panel advises NOAA on operations and research issues related to hydrographic surveying, nautical charts, tides and currents, geodetic and geospatial measurements and coastal resilience. Applicants should have expertise in marine navigation; port administration; marine shipping or other intermodal transportation industries; cartography and geographic information systems; geodesy; physical oceanography; coastal resource management, including coastal resilience and emergency response; or other science-related fields.

Applications must be received by 10 August 2015. Federal Register notice: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/06/30/2015-16153/hydrographic-services-review-panel-membership-solicitation.

Visit the HSRP website at http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/ocs/hsrp/hsrp.htm.

Employment Opportunities 

Lab Assistant, GreenWaterLabs in Palatka, FL  



Consultant, Offshore Safety, National Academy of Sciences Gulf Research Program 



Project Administration Manager: Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative  



Other opportunities:


Funding Opportunities 

National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Gulf Research Program (GRP)

Full proposals for Data Synthesis Grants grants due 31 July 2015. Read more: http://www.nationalacademies.org/gulf/datagrants/index.htm. Letters of Intent were required prior to full proposal submission.


NOAA Regional Coastal Resilience Grant Program: Deadline 24 July 2015


Current Events and Meetings 


OTN-Hosted International Conference on Fish Telemetry, 13-17 July 2015, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada



Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Meeting, 10-14 August 2015, Hilton  Riverside, New Orleans, LA


GCOOS Outreach and Education Meeting, 11-12 August 2015, Hilton Riverside, New Orleans, LA


Oceans in Action 2015, 20 August 2015, Stennis Space Center, MS


ESCA55: Unbounded boundaries and shifting baselines, estuaries and coastal seas in a rapidly changing world, 6-9 September 2015, London, UK

Click for details.


GCOOS-RA Board of Directors Meeting, 17 September 2015, St. Petersburg, FL



Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Meeting, 5-9 October 2015, Hilton Galveston Island, Gaveston, TX



MTS/IEEE Oceans '15, 19-22 October 2015, Washington, D.C.




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