The Gulf of Mexico is the ninth largest body of water in the world. The watersheds of 33 states drain into the Gulf from more than 150 rivers, including 20 that are major river systems, such as the Mississippi River. If the states along its border — Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida — were their own country, they would rank as the world’s ninth largest economy for gross domestic product.

For the U.S., the Gulf is of strategic importance for homeland security and military operations, international commerce and transportation, energy production, natural resources and recreation. It is also a vital economic driver providing jobs for 20 million people and generating $234 billion annually.

Such economic and ecological significance brings with it a wide audience of GCOOS data users and stakeholders who have equally broad priority issues facing them today and into the future.

Since GCOOS was created as a nonprofit organization in 2005, we have been developing programs to support the Gulf’s many stakeholders, including scientists and researchers, industry, educators and resource managers.