Wednesday, July 10, 2019

#WeatherWednesday Get Ready for Gulf Coast Tropical Weather


With the new tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico it is time to review where to find the best information to stay informed.


1. First, we have to mention our Coastal Resilience Team who work with a lot of partners to create these Homeowner Handbooks to help prepare for coastal hazards - get it for your state http://stormsmart.org/handbook/


2. NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center 
The experts on tropical weather have all the latest updates here https://www.weather.gov/lch/tropic


3. NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information have these super useful Extreme Weather Information sheets by state https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/newis/


4. They also make an IOS app if you are an Apple product user, you can download this https://apps.apple.com/us/app/newis-noaa-extreme-weather-information/id669225819


5. Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System - GCOOS has a weather product that allows the user to turn on and off various bits of data to tailor make your own observation. https://geo.gcoos.org/weather/


Stay safe!

Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Resources

It was a massive and lingering problem for Florida last year, now Mississippi is plagued with a harmful algal bloom, "Officials close all Mississippi beaches due to blue-green harmful algal bloom" https://lnkd.in/eZkSmi8 What are harmful algal blooms otherwise known as HABs by scientists? Learn more from https://lnkd.in/eNkug5u Not all HABs are bad. They are phytoplankton comprised of microscopic aquatic organisms. They contribute to the oxygen in the atmosphere and ocean. They are the foundation of the food web. https://lnkd.in/ep86MJg Citizen scientists help researchers understand HABs by monitoring for specific phytoplankton around the coasts. https://lnkd.in/ebU6Ed7 GCOOS maintains a wealth of links to hashtagHabs, hypoxia, and nutrient applications, resources, observations, and more. Search their products https://lnkd.in/eUw5Esn There is a lot scientists and resource managers are yet to know about hashtagHABs. Join our hashtagWaterResources Team to get directly involved in working on this problem. https://lnkd.in/eRMDDic

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Bowie to Speak at Gulfport Connections

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce is hosting Gulf of Mexico Alliance Executive Director, Laura Bowie, on July 8, 2019, during their quarterly breakfast. Ms. Bowie will present at the Gulfport Connections Breakfast event to update the organization on the Alliance’s campaign, Embrace the Gulf 2020. The Alliance conceived an awareness campaign to highlight the value and the vitality of the Gulf of Mexico region. It will culminate in a multi-stakeholder, cross-sector celebration of the importance of the Gulf throughout 2020. Ms. Bowie’s presentation will cover how you, your business or programs can prepare to help promote the value of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Gulf Coast during the Embrace the Gulf 2020 awareness campaign.
Gulfport Connections doors open at 7:30 am with the Connections program from 8:00 to 9:00 am. Cost is $20 exclusive member pricing or $30 for general admission and includes a buffet breakfast.
Register now at https://bit.ly/2XleNHq.

2019 All Hands by the Numbers

This month, we hosted our 15th All Hands meeting, and it’s hard to capture how it feels to watch so many people working together for the good of the Gulf the way GOMA people do.  To prove it, here are some of the unique things about our meeting in Gulf Shores on June 10-13:
  • 6 Priority Issue Team Meetings
  • 3 Cross-Team Initiative Meetings
  • 19 tools at the Tools Café
  • 20 different workshops or meetings
  • 30 sponsors
  • 425 attendees
  • Countless waves crashing along the beautiful Gulf Shores beaches
Among countless other things, we celebrated new Gulf Star partners; we explored how ecotourism is a large part of coastal Alabama’s tourism portfolio; we showed off GOMA projects to our Business Advisory Council; we connected with our partners in the National Association of Counties; and we conducted six priority issue team meetings and three cross-team meetings.
We did it with an army of people that volunteer their time to plan, organize, and facilitate all the details that have to happen for such a successful meeting.  All of these people have other jobs that they are paid to do, so their time spent on GOMA activities is invaluable.  Specifically, I’d like to publicly acknowledge the following Team Chairs, Coordinators, Facilitators, and Ambassadors for their extra effort in making the 2019 meeting a success:
Coastal Resilience – Rhonda Price and Kristen Kapiotis
Data & Monitoring – Dave Reed, Stephanie Erikson, Katie Wallace, and Julie Bosch
Education & Engagement – Angela Underwood, Lee Yokel, Amy Clark, Jeanne Allen, and Ilka Porter
Habitat Resources – Jim Pahl, Lauren Durr, Ray Newby, Rene Baumstark, and George Ramseur
Water Resources – Kim Caviness-Reardon, Ann Porter, Jill Csekitz
Wildlife & Fisheries – Robin Riechers and Mike Smith
Marine Debris – Caitlin Wessel
Ecosystem Services Assessment – Becky Allee
Conservation, Restoration, & Resilience Planning – Jim Pahl, Rhonda Price, and Robin Riechers
GOMA Ambassadors – Todd Davison, Phillip Hinesley, Lael Butler, Larry Handley, and Chris Pease
GOMA only works because there are people out there that believe working together brings exponential results.  So, thank you – you are what makes GOMA work!
A special thanks to our 2019 All Hands sponsors – it’s because of you we can have a cost-effective meeting!
By Laura Bowie, Executive Director, Gulf of Mexico Alliance

Deepwater Horizon Settlement-funded Ferries Provide Easier Access to the Wonders of Pensacola Bay

This August will mark 460 years since Spanish explorer and Conquistador Tristán de Luna sailed 11 vessels into what is now known as Pensacola Bay and established the nation’s oldest (but short-lived) European settlement. Now two 150-passenger catamaran-style ferryboats are plying those waters, thanks to settlement funds resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment (DWH NRDA) process. The ferries, which started service last year, began running from downtown Pensacola from a new $3.5 million brand-new home port that opened for business on April 20, 2019.
In addition to damaging natural resources, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the response to it prevented the public from using the beaches and the waters in many places along the Gulf of Mexico. Among those were parts of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, typically one of the top-10 most visited National Park Areas in the United States. The DWH NRDA process led to a settlement with BP in which funds were earmarked specifically to help restore lost visitor use. The two ferries were purchased with $4 million of the settlement funds for this purpose.
The ferries, named Turtle Runner and Pelican Perch by local fourth-grade students, will carry passengers between their new home port in downtown Pensacola, Pensacola Beach, and historic Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island. Turtle Runner and Pelican Perch feature a climate-controlled enclosed main deck and a shaded upper deck for observation, and are equipped with a snack bar for food and beverage service, a well as restrooms and passenger storage. The ferries were constructed to Americans with Disabilities Act standards and have bike racks for those wishing to explore Fort Pickens or Santa Rosa Island by bicycle.
At an April 13 ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new ferry terminal building, Pensacola City Council Member Ann Hill stressed how the ferries and infrastructure will advance efforts to promote outdoor recreation. “We work for walkability and bike-ability and to make our waterfront more accessible,” she said. “Now are adding boat-ability!”
Local officials noted at the ceremony that in addition to being a tourist attraction, the ferries would ensure continued public access to the park should it eventually become impractical to continually repair and rebuild a road that connects Santa Rosa to the mainland. Fort Pickens Road has washed out frequently during hurricanes and even heavy rain events.
At the ceremony and in media interviews, park Superintendent Dan Brown has noted that the new service isn’t intended to be simple point-to-point transportation like a vehicle ferry or basic public transport. He says park rangers are onboard to provide information about the park and its historic Fort Pickens and to point out dolphins, pelicans, and other wildlife. In this way, the service provides the community and visitors a unique way to experience the exceptional natural and man-made wonders of Pensacola Bay.
Nearly a century after Tristán de Luna’s arrival in Pensacola waters, the Royal Geographer Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora described Pensacola’s natural harbor as “the finest jewel possessed by His Majesty … not only here in America but in all his kingdom.” Now locals and visitors to the area can better access and enjoy that jewel.
Contributed by Nadine Siak, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, SE Region/Gulf Restoration Program.
Read more about the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) for the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s Back! The Great Red Snapper Count

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium is working with a team of scientists around the region on a massive study of Red Snapper. This spring, partners released 4,000 legal-sized, tagged fish across the Gulf of Mexico. This citizen science opportunity is one where a lucky angler may be rewarded with $250 cash for each reported and returned tag. There is even a great app, iSnapper, that lets you help enter data as part of this historic study.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Gulf of Mexico Alliance Kicks Off All Hands with Ecotourism

The Gulf of Mexico Alliance (Alliance) is pleased to open the 15th annual All Hands meeting at The Lodge at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama, June 11-13, 2019. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Deputy Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship is welcoming attendees. Mayor Robert Craft with the City of Gulf Shores will welcome the Alliance in its first visit to Alabama’s crystal white beaches. The purpose of the meeting is multi-faceted. The All Hands meeting is an opportunity for partners to come together on vital work conducted throughout the year. This collaboration allows for project updates, planning on key issues, training, doing business, and keeping up with the latest best management practices.
The Alliance comprises six teams, three initiatives, five states, 13 federal agencies, over 30 regional business partners, a research initiative, a public/private partnership, numerous non‐profit associates, and local communities working across the Gulf on shared issues. NOAA Office of Coastal Management Director, Jeff Payne, will speak to the group on the power of these diverse partnerships.
Rounding out the morning, a panel of local experts will discuss Ecotourism. Herb Malone with the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach tourism, Phillip West with Orange Beach, and Down Under Dive Shop owner Bud Howard will share what makes the area unique and brings visitors back year after year.
The All Hands conference is the first major event held at The Lodge. The facility was built around the concept of sustainable tourism. It embraces environmentally friendly operations, support for cultural and natural heritage, and provides economic benefits to the local community. It mirrors well with the Alliance’s mission to enhance the environmental and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico.
The meeting involves many moving parts. Teams, cross-teams, and committees will meet through the week covering a variety issues including coastal resilience, habitat resources, marine debris, avian monitoring and much more. For a complete schedule, download the master agenda http://tiny.cc/79rw7y.
Learn more about the Gulf of Mexico Alliance https://gulfofmexicoalliance.org/.