GCOOS News & Updates for March 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 

Happy 10th Anniversary GCOOS-RA!

     2015 has started off as an exciting year as the GCOOS-RA continues celebration of its 10th Anniversary. The GCOOS-RA has established a Facebook page to keep you current on information about the Gulf of Mexico and the GCOOS-RA. The page includes news, funding opportunities, images, video, and more! "Like" us at https://www.facebook.com/GCOOS . 


GCOOS-RA Held Annual Joint Board and Members Meeting this Week

     The GCOOS-RA held the annual Joint Board and Members Meeting this week at the Pavillon Hotel in New Orleans, LA. The agenda included presentations on RESTORE, coordination with Mexico, a 10th Anniversary Celebration for the GCOOS-RA, and much more! To view the agenda, visit http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?page_id=8741. Presentations and a meeting report will be available on the GCOOS-RA website (http://www.gcoos.org) soon.


photo: Steven F. DiMarco

GCOOS-RA Partners Hold Glider Webinar
     On 10 February 2015, the Gulf Glider Task Team of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association (GCOOS-RA) held a webinar on the benefits of using Autonomous Underwater Gliders (AUGs) and Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASVs) as observing platforms across the Gulf of Mexico, with discussion on the existing capabilities, current research endeavors, and strategies for further implementation.

      The goals of the webinar were to:
1)   Describe the different AUG and ASV platforms currently in use,
2)   Present different monitoring applications for AUGs and ASVs, and
3)   Outline the use of AUGs and ASVs by our nearby neighbors (Mexico, Caribbean Coastal Ocean Observing System, and   the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association), as well as describe the National Glider Network Plan.

     Over 65 individuals from private industry, research/academia, and government participated in the productive webinar. Participants from the GCOOS-RA, Mote Marine Laboratory, University of South Florida, University of Southern Mississippi, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Naval Research Lab, Texas A&M University, and the U.S. Integrated Observing System (IOOS) gave presentations.

To access the webinar recording, go to  http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?page_id=8902.


Supporting Citizen Science in the Gulf of Mexico
GCOOS-RA developing new data portal for citizen-gathered information to help groups share information Gulf-wide
     When fifth graders at DeSoto Elementary School in Hillsborough County, Fla., went exploring at the Florida Conservation and Technology Center in Apollo Beach recently as part of The Florida Aquarium's new Watershed Investigations program, they were doing more than just learning about the watershed that feeds Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. They were joining other student and adult citizen scientists throughout the Gulf who are gathering data about their local environment.
     There are hundreds of groups Gulf-wide monitoring their local environments, collecting important data about how things are changing over time. But where is all that information going? Often the answer is that the information is gathered and archived locally, but isn't shared with other organizations or agencies that could make use of it.

     The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association is hoping to change that by developing a new citizen-science data portal that will help make information that citizen-science groups gather more accessible to a wider audience. GCOOS already provides a one-stop-shop online clearinghouse for environmental data gathered by scientists from all Gulf of Mexico states. Now, they're working on a pilot project that will add some citizen information to the mix.
     "Gulf-wide, citizens' groups are gathering data about their regions and that's great," said Dr. Chris Simoniello, Director of Outreach and Education for the GCOOS-RA. "But if the data aren't widely available, they can't help when the unexpected happens. For instance, after an oil spill, resource managers must restore habitats that were damaged. But without good baseline information about what a particular habitat looked like before a disaster, it's impossible to do good, science-based restoration."
     Simoniello is working with three groups in Florida and Texas to host the data that their citizen scientists are gathering - the Galveston Bay Foundation in Galveston Bay, Texas, Nature's Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Fla. The data portal is under development by GCOOS product developer Dr. Shin Kobara, who is addressing the challenges of integrating diverse datasets collected with different methods and instruments. Kobara and his team are testing the portal, which is expected to go live this summer.
     To learn more about this project visit http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=8982 .To discuss the possibilities of having GCOOS host your organization's data, please contact Dr. Chris Simoniello at   

GCOOS-RA at the IOOS Spring Meeting

     Barb Kirkpatrick (GCOOS-RA Executive Director) and Mike Spranger (GCOOS-RA Board Member) braved the ice and snow to participate in the spring meeting of the IOOS Program Office, the IOOS Regional Associations, and the Alliance for Coastal Technologies; the IOOS Association Board meeting; and visits to the hill.  It was a packed 1.5 days with the group covering a myriad of topics, such as RA Certification and data management, with an Ignite style event to cap off the meeting. 


GCOOS-RA at the 2015 Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference

     The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) held the 2015 Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference in Houston, Texas, from 16-19 February 2015. More than 1000 people from 21 countries participated in the annual conference to discuss research associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010.

GCOOS-RA staff gave several presentations and posters at the conference:

  • Chris Simoniello (GCOOS-RA Outreach and Education Lead) - Lead author of presentation Self-Help Marine Animals: Engaging Species in Research that Aims to Protect Them, with S. Watson, B. Kirkpatrick and R. Currier.
  • Matt Howard (GCOOS-RA Data Management and Communications Lead) - Proposer of Data Management and Informatics Supporting Ecosystem Sciences Session and co-author of presentation U.S. IOOS Data Management Services to Address Biological and Ecosystem Data Integration to Support Ecosystem Sciences in the Gulf of Mexico, with H. Moustahfid, V. Subramanian, P. Goldstein, and H. Brown.
  • Felimon Gayanilo and Matt Howard (GCOOS-RA Data Management and Communications Leads) - Co-authors of poster on the Sufficiency of Self-Documenting Data Exchange Standards.
  • Barb Kirkpatrick - Co-author of presentation Approach for Improved Public Health Guidance for Beach Use During and After Oil Spills, with H. M. Solo-Gabriele, V. J. Harwood, A. Ferguson, M. Byrne, K. D. Mena, A. Becker, V. Omachonu, D. M. Axelrad, P. Beamer, B. Buckley, Z. Bursac, R. Canales, G. D. DiGiovanni, M. Dutton, S. Elmir, P. Gurian, J. Holleneck, L. Johnson, J. Klaus, I. L�pez, M. Mormann, L. W. Plano, R. A. Rodriguez, M. Sadowsky, S. Shalat, P. Solo-Josephson, J. L. Studts, S. Suther, P. Tarwater, J. Weidhaas, and A. Wright.

     GCOOS-RA Staff and Board Members also participated in several associated meetings at the GoMRI conference, including: Monitoring Status and Trends of Long-Lived Marine Vertebrates as a Measurable Indicator of Restoration and Long-Term Health of the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem, GRIIDC Session 1: Introduction to GoMRI Data Management, GRIIDC Session 2: GRIIDC System Walkthrough, GRIIDC Session 3: Metadata Development and Best Practices, and the Gulf Science and Restoration Programs Update and Panel Discussion. Find the presentations and posters on the GCOOS-RA Presentations and Posters page at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?page_id=5995. For more on this story, please visit http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=8999.  


Florida Expert Briefs Congressional Members on the Many Public Health and Safety Benefits of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS)

Andrew Reich discusses harmful algal blooms.

     On 26 February 2015, Andrew Reich, Program Coordinator of the Aquatic Toxins Disease Prevention Program - Public Health Section at the Florida Department of Health, participated in a Congressional Briefing on the many public health and safety benefits of the U.S. IOOS.
     The briefing, sponsored by the U.S. IOOS Program Office and the IOOS Association, addressed how science-based observations are aiding search and rescue, homeland security, maritime commerce, and mitigating the impacts of harmful algal blooms (HABs) along the heavily populated U.S. coasts.

Dr. Russell Callender, Acting Assistant Administrator of NOAA's National Ocean Service, moderated the panel, which included: 

  • Dr. Ru Morrison (Northeast Regional Association) - Overview of the U.S. IOOS;
  • Dr. Scott Glenn (Rutgers University) - Applications for search and rescue; homeland security;
  • Captain David Gelinas (Penobscot Bay and River Pilots) - Maritime Commerce;
  • Dr. Kris Lynch (Shell Exploration and Production Company): and
  • Mr. Andrew Reich (Florida Department of Public Health) - Mitigating the effects of Harmful Algal Blooms.

     Andrew Reich, former lead of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association's Public Health and Safety Task Team, which focuses on identifying and improving coastal ocean observations needed to protect public health, gave an informative presentation on using ocean observations to mitigate the impacts of HABs along the Florida coast. Mr. Reich noted the importance of Florida's beaches to the state's economy and the potential threats to public health from the different types of algae blooms. In his presentation, Mr. Reich cited the NOAA HAB Bulletin (http://co-ops.nos.noaa.gov/hab/bulletins.html ) that informs citizens, visitors, and decision makers the location and movement of HABs. He cited the bulletin as a key tool to minimize impacts and keep people healthy during HAB events.
Learn more at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=8959.


Marine Biodiversity Observing Network Meeting
     The first all-hands meeting of the National Marine Sanctuaries-Marine Biodiversity Observing Network (MBON) was held 2-4 March 2015 in Miami, Florida. Project team members met to define a strategy and establish practices to implement such observation networks nationally and internationally. This is a five-year project funded by NOAA, NASA, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and private industry. Discussions at this meeting focused on coordinated methods to monitor changes in marine biodiversity in three National Marine Sanctuaries: Monterey Bay, Florida Keys, and Flower Garden Banks. Leading the project are Drs. Frank Muller-Karger at the University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science, Francisco Chavez at the Monterey Bay Research Institute (MBARI), and Steve Gittings from the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS). Representatives from more than 20 organizations participated, including USF; MBARI; NOAA's ONMS, Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Office of Ocean Exploration, and IOOS Program Office and three Regional Associations-GCOOS, Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System and Alaska Ocean Observing System; Stanford University; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Axiom Data Science; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS); and Roffer's Ocean Fish Forecasting Service. The project, which includes a combination of remote sensing, field sampling, data management, outreach and education, and cutting edge genomic strategies, seeks to equip resource managers with the best science to inform decisions to sustain use of natural resources and to promote ocean stewardship.        


Strengthening Collaboration on Ocean Observing in Mexico (from 6 March IOOS Z-Gram)

      The Eighth Ordinary Session of Consortium of Institutions for Marine Research in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean (CIIMAR-GoMC) was held in Mexico City on 25-27 February 2015. The focus of the CIIMAR-GoMC was discussion of scientific topics aimed at strengthening observation systems and monitoring of oceans and coasts. The United States had a strong contingent in attendance with Zdenka and Jack Harlan, IOOS Program Office; Barb Kirkpatrick and Nancy Rabalais, GCOOS; Tony Knap, Texas A&M; Steve Ashby, Northern Gulf Institute; Dr. Rebecca Green, Bureau of Ocean Energy and Management (BOEM); LeighAnne Olsen, Gulf Research Program of the U.S. National Academies of Science; and Laura Pederson and Chad Whalen CODAR OceanSonde LLC. GCOOS joined CIIMAR at this meeting.  Jack and my presentations are located: http://www.ioos.noaa.gov/communications/presentations/welcome.html. Read the full story here:  http://www.ioos.noaa.gov/ioos_in_action/stories/ocean_observing_mexico.html .


Invitation to join the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Jubilee in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, 13-17 July 2015
     The University of Southern Mississippi and the Naval Research Laboratory, together with Rutgers University, are hosting an AUV Jubilee in the northern Gulf of Mexico on 13-17 July, 2015. The mission of the Jubilee is to conduct a coordinated field demonstration of ocean observing technologies focused in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Join in this cooperative effort to coordinate disparate individual ocean research efforts and characterize ocean processes in the Gulf. The Jubliee will also include an educational component aimed at middle school, high school, and community college science teachers. Learn more at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=8927.  

Gulf Restoration News 

National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Gulf Research Program Holds Advisory Board Meeting and Releases New Workshop Report

     The NAS Gulf Research Program held its first meeting, a board orientation meeting, of the new Advisory Board on 10-11 March 2015 in Tampa, FL. For more information, visit  http://www.nationalacademies.org/gulf/events/index.html .

     The Gulf Research Program also released the workshop report, Opportunities for the Gulf Research Program: Community Resilience and Health. Find the report here. 


NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program Update

     Proposals to the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program are due by 17 March 2015. Read more at http://restoreactscienceprogram.noaa.gov/funding/ffo-2015 .

     The NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program's Final Science Plan will be released soon. For more information see  http://restoreactscienceprogram.noaa.gov/science-plan


Texas: Submit project ideas for Natural Resources Damage Assessment, RESTORE Act, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund monies at https://www.restorethetexascoast.org/ . For more information on the Texas OneGulf Center of Excellence, see  http://www.harteresearchinstitute.org/tx-onegulf


Louisiana: Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) released proposed policies for administering grants governing the state's Center of Excellence under the RESTORE Act. Read more at http://gcoos.tamu.edu/?p=8954 . Comments on their FY2016 Draft Annual Plan are due by 18 March 2015.


Mississippi: Submit or review project ideas at http://www.restore.ms/ . MS Department of Environmental Quality will receive public comments on the Center of Excellence RFP until 23 March 2015 - http://www.restore.ms/center-of-excellence/


Alabama: For the most current information, see http://www.restorealabama.org/


Florida: For information related to the Gulf Consortium of Florida Counties, visit http://www.fl-counties.com/advocacy/gulf-consortium . For information related to the Florida RESTORE Centers of Excellence, see  http://www.fio.usf.edu/research/restore-act .

Gulf of Mexico Regional News 

Outer Continental Shelf Lease Sale in Western Gulf August 2015
     As part of President Obama's all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper announced the bureau will offer more than 21 million acres offshore Texas for oil and gas exploration and development in a lease sale that will include all available unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area.
     Proposed Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 246, scheduled to take place in New Orleans in August of 2015, will be the eighth offshore sale under the Administration's Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017 (Five Year Program). This sale builds on six sales, already held in the current Five Year Program, that have netted nearly $ 2.4 billion, and supports the Administration's goal of continuing to increase domestic oil and gas production. Learn more at http://www.boem.gov/press03022015/.

IOOS/National/Legislative News 

Ocean Acidification Threatens Economies of 15 U.S. States
      A report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council finds that ocean acidification is a major threat to the coastal economies of 15 U.S. States, including Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. Read more at http://www.nrdc.org/media/2015/150223.asp.


Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's (BOEM) Ocean Information Geoportal
      Try the BOEM Ocean Information Portal, a place
to explore BOEM's Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the Outer Continental Shelf 2017-2022 Oil and Gas Leasing Program


Planning for MTS/IEEE OCEANS'15 Washington DC (from 6 March IOOS Z-Gram)
       The US IOOS Program Office has secured 2 booths in the exhibit hall and will be looking for community engagement.  We are exploring options for IOOS focused session tracks and events such as town halls and an IGNITE style session.

Abstract submissions are now open and close in late May: http://www.oceans15mtsieeewashington.org/index.php/program/abstract-submission . If you have additional ideas on session tracks, workshops, tutorials and non-traditional activities, Doug is looking for your help, please see the program so far, but also consider being part of the organizing team:  http://www.oceans15mtsieeewashington.org/index.php/program/topics.

Contact Doug at: techprogchair@oceans15mtsieeewashington.org .


pH Sensor Verification Reports Released (from 6 March IOOS Z-Gram) 
     The Alliance for Coastal Technologies (ACT) has just released Verification Reports for seven individual in situ pH sensors evaluated in the laboratory and under diverse field conditions for accuracy, precision, stability and reliability.  Reports and test protocols can be downloaded at www.act-us.info/evaluations.php.

Employment Opportunities 

Coastal Planning Specialist with Texas Sea Grant 

Galveston Bay Foundation Water Quality Volunteer Internships

Funding Opportunities 

Gulf Coast Conservation Grants Program, Due 26 March 11:59 pm Eastern.   


Sound and Marine Life RFPs, Due Dates Vary by Topic: 27 March and 3 April.


Florida RESTORE Centers of Excellence Full Proposals Due 20 May 2015 . Must have submitted LOIs by 2 March 2015.  http://www.fio.usf.edu/research/restore-act

NOAA RESTORE Science Program, Proposals Due 17 March 2015.

Current Events and Meetings 

March 2015
"Coastal GeoTools" 30 March-2 April 2015, Embassy Suites Hotel, North Charleston, South Carolina.

April 2015

National Ocean Science Bowl (NOSB), 23-26 April 2015, Ocean Springs, MS


May 2015

2015 Gulf of Mexico Climate Outreach Community of Practice Meeting, 19-21 May, St. Petesburg, FL  http://masgc.org/climate-outreach-community-of-practice/annual-meeting-2015


"2015 Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association Annual Meeting", 19-20 May 2015, Jacksonville, FL

Click here for details.  
"Blue Planet Symposium", 27-29 May 2015, Cairns, Australia

 "Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council" 30 March - 2 April 2015, Golden Nugget, Biloxi, MS


June 2015

 "Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) 2015", 9-11 June 2015, Washington, D.C. Newseum


"GOMA All-Hands Meeting", 16-18 June 2015, Biloxi, MS  


"Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council" 8-12 June 2015, Marriott Beachside, Key West, FL


September 2015

ECSA 55: Unbounded boundaries and shifting baselines, Estuaries and coastal seas in a rapidly changing world" 6-9 September, London, UK

Click here for details.