Ocean Observing Systems& Fisheries Oceanography

Ocean Observing Systems & Fisheries Oceanography


Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) and Southeast Coastal and Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA)

The Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) is a partnership among federal, regional, academic, and private sector parties that works to provide new tools and forecasts to improve safety, enhance the economy, and protect our environment.  IOOS supplies critical information about our Nation’s oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. Scientists working to understand climate change, governments adapting to changes in the Arctic, municipalities monitoring local water quality, and industries affected by coastal and marine spatial planning all have the same need: reliable, timely, and sustained access to data and information that inform decision making.  Improving access to key marine data and information supports several purposes. IOOS data sustain national defense, marine commerce, and navigation safety. Scientists use these data to issue weather, climate, and marine forecasts. IOOS data are also used to make decisions for energy siting and production, economic development, and ecosystem-based resource management. Emergency managers and health officials need IOOS information to make decisions about public safety. Teachers and government officials rely on IOOS data for public outreach, training, and education.


SECOORA is one of 11 Regional Associations established nationwide through the US Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) whose primary source of funding is via US IOOS through a 5-year cooperative agreement titled Coordinated Monitoring, Prediction, and Assessment to Support Decision‐Makers Needs for Coastal and Ocean Data and Tools, but was recently awarded funding via a NOAA Regional Ocean Partnership grant through the Governors’ South Atlantic Alliance.  SECOORA is the regional solution to integrating coastal and ocean observing data in the Southeast United States to inform decision makers and the general public. The SECOORA region encompasses 4 states, over 42 million people, and spans the coastal ocean from North Carolina to the west Coast of Florida and is creating customized products to address these thematic areas: Marine Operations; Coastal Hazards; Ecosystems, Water Quality, and Living Marine Resources; and Climate Change. The Council is a voting member and Council staff was recently re-elected to serve on the Board of Directors for the Southeast Coastal Regional Ocean Observing Association (SECOORA) to guide and direct priority needs for observation and modeling to support fisheries oceanography and integration into stock assessments through SEDAR. Cooperation through SECOORA is envisioned to facilitate the following:

  • Refining current or water column designations of EFH and EFH-HAPCs (e.g., Gulf Stream and Florida Current).
  • Providing oceanographic models linking benthic, pelagic habitats, and food we
  • Providing oceanographic input parameters for ecosystem mode
  • Integration of OOS information into Fish Stock Assessment process in the South Atlantic reg
  • Facilitating OOS system collection of data and other research necessary to support the Council’s conservation of habitat and use of area-based management tools in the South Atlantic Region including but not limited to designation of Essential Fish Habitat and EFH-Habitat Areas of Particular Concern and establishment of Marine Protected Areas, Deepwater Coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern, Special Management Zones, Spawning Special Management Zones and Allowable Gear Areas.
  • Characterizing connectivity of habitats and managed areas.
  • Highlighting OOS program in the South Atlantic Fishery Ecosystem Plan II Dashboard.
  • Collaboration with SECOORA to provide access to OOS products with information through the Council’s Habitat and Ecosystem Web Services, Atlas and Digital Dashboard to facilitate model and tool development and provide researchers access to data or products including those collected/developed by South Atlantic OOS partner


SECOORA researchers are developing a comprehensive data portal to provide discovery of, access to, and metadata about coastal ocean observations in the southeast US.  Below are various ways to access the currently available data.


One project funded by SECOORA initiated development of species specific habitat models that integrate remotely sensed and in situ data to investigate how oceanographic information may be considered in stock assessments for species managed by the Council.  The project during 2013/2014 was initiated to address red porgy, gray triggerfish, black seabass, and vermilion snapper.


The Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®) is a national-regional partnership working to provide new tools and forecasts to improve safety, enhance the economy, and protect our environment. Integrated ocean information is available in near real time, as well as retrospectively. Easier and better access to this information is improving our ability to understand and predict coastal events – such as storms, wave heights, and sea level change. Such knowledge is needed for everything from retail to development planning. Link to Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS):  https://www.ioos.noaa.gov/

The Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA) is the coastal ocean observing system for the Southeast U.S. SECOORAs mission is to observe, understand, and increase awareness of our coastal ocean; promoting knowledge, economic and environmental health through strong regional partnerships. Link to the Southeast Coastal and Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA): http://secoora.org/


Southeast Coastal and Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA)

The Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA) is the coastal ocean observing system for the Southeast U.S. SECOORAs mission is to observe, understand, and increase awareness of our coastal ocean; promoting knowledge, economic and environmental health through strong regional partnerships.

Guided by their members, users, regional ocean experts, managers, and other stakeholders, we collect data and create tools that support human populations, coastal economies and a healthy, sustainable environment. The SECOORA observing system is comprised of multiple data products, moored and coastal stations, high-frequency radars, and a glider observatory.

The SECOORA footprint spans the eastern side of Gulf of Mexico to South Atlantic Bight and is connected by the Loop Current-Florida Current-Gulf Stream continuum.

SECOORA is one of 11 regional coastal observing systems that comprise the NOAA led United States Integrated Ocean Observing System (U.S. IOOS®). IOOS is essentially the weather service for the coastal oceans and Great Lakes, providing the ability to “see” what is happening both above and below the surface and making that information readily available. IOOS includes 17 Federal agencies and a national network of 11 regional observing systems.

SECOORA Strategic Plan

Developed by the Board in 2015, the SECOORA Strategic Plan for 2016-2020 guides tasks for the next 4 years. A link to the plan is SECOORA Strategic Plan.


SECOORA supports projects that are important to stakeholders in the southeast. SECOORA talks to users and produces oceanographic observations, models, web tools, applications, and products based on their needs. Data is available their portal http://secoora.org/data/ .  Each project SECOORA supports is linked to one of four focus areas: Marine Operations, Coastal Hazards, Ecosystems, and Climate Variability.

Marine Operations

Ocean observations and web-based tools play a key role in promoting safe and efficient maritime transportation and recreational boating. Mariners, search and rescue crews, emergency managers and others are eager to access information on sea and weather conditions before heading out on the water.

SECOORA aims to improve safety and efficiency of marine operations through provision of:

  • A geographically rich set of sustained observations
  • Enhancing access to marine weather data
  • Developing web based applications and models to serve the marine community


Coastal Hazards

Coastal hazards come in many varieties in the Southeast: Hurricane landfalls, coastal community flooding, and rip current events are a few.  SECOORA focuses on improving coastal hazard resilience in the southeast by:

  • Operating observing platforms to provide community-level data necessary to improve the accuracy of storm surge forecasts;
  • Providing rapid access to coastal and oceanographic data;
  • Funding projects to increase the accuracy of rip current forecasting


Ecosystems: Water Quality and Living Marine Resources

Ocean and coastal conditions are constantly changing. These three-dimensional and fluid dependent systems function through complex chemical, geological, and biological interactions that change over time and space. Observations and ecosystem models are necessary to understand the Southeast’s complex ecosystems.  SECOORA focuses on improving coastal hazard resilience in the Southeast by:

  • Supporting partners to collect and report water quality data
  • Creating tools for historical circulation and climate data
  • Supporting models and information to improve beach water quality advisory notices


Climate Variability

SECOORA is devoted to sustaining observations and partnerships to understand climate variability and its effect on our oceans.  SECOORA focuses on Climate Variability initiatives by:

  • Supporting oceanographic moorings that incorporate carbon dioxide sensors as part of the NOAA Ocean Acidification Monitoring Program
  • Continuing the dialogue for ocean acidification through SOCAN
  • Sustaining continuous ocean observing datasets
  • Creating tools that visualize historical and real-time datasets

SECOORA Membership

SECOORA members influence and guide all our endeavors to help make us a trusted source for coastal ocean information in the southeast. From North Carolina to Florida, universities, state and local agencies, volunteer groups, businesses, and more join SECOORA to set our regional coastal ocean observing priorities. The link to learn more about membership is: http://secoora.org/about/membership/.


The role of the SECOORA Board of Directors is to guide overall policy direction for the SECOORA enterprise, ensure staffing of Policy Committees, elect SECOORA officers, maintain a high quality of Board performance, review SECOORA finances, and report Board activities to the general membership. The link to learn more about membership is:  http://secoora.org/about/board/.