Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide on-demand information about the Gulf’s coastal and open ocean waters that is accurate, reliable and benefits people, ecosystems and the economy.

The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) is the Gulf of Mexico regional component of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). We are the only certified, comprehensive data collection and dissemination center for coastal and ocean data in the Gulf.

GCOOS leverages a small budget — just $2 million — into big results by coordinating information gathered by federal, state and private partners running nearly 2,000 sensors in coastal waters to the deep ocean. We ensure that all data is timely, reliable, accurate and available to everyone — from weather forecasters to Coast Guard first responders — to ensure a healthy, productive ocean and resilient coastal communities for the Gulf’s 14 million residents and the $234 billion annual economic benefit it provides to the U.S. economy.

Instead of operating our own in-water assets such as buoys, autonomous vehicles, radar systems and water-quality monitoring tools, we collaborate with and provide grant support to on-the-ground investigators who develop and implement data collection using their own systems. This allows us to leverage our limited dollars to increase partnerships with local and state organizations Gulf-wide that are using professional and citizen scientists to develop a comprehensive data system that benefits users and supports jobs and local economies.

In addition to data collection and distribution, we conduct education and outreach activities to equip the public to use and make decisions about the economic and environmental health of our Gulf of Mexico.


GCOOS is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization governed by a 17-member volunteer Board of Directors from industry, government, NGOs and academia. Directors are elected by GCOOS voting members and serve three-year terms.

The organization is led by an Executive Director and includes a small staff.


The majority of the GCOOS-RA funding is competitively awarded through the U.S. IOOS office (under the umbrella of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) via multi-year grants, cooperative agreements or contracts.

Academic, governmental and nonprofit entities contribute data to the GCOOS data portal with minimal funding support from our organization. Most observations and products from the U.S. portion of the Gulf of Mexico and its estuaries are supported by government agencies (federal, state and local) or the private sector to meet their requirements.

An important note about funding:

While historically our main source of funding has been the U.S. IOOS, GCOOS actively seeks revenue sources that supplement this income to bolster the Gulf of Mexico ocean-observing capabilities and to develop the tools and products needed by our constituents.

Currently, 27 percent of the GCOOS budget is supplied by outside grants and contracts and we expect that future funding required to fully implement the ocean observing system envisioned in our Build-Out Plan will come from a variety of sources.

GCOOS Strategic Plan 2020-2025

GCOOS Build-Out Plan