GRIIDC Participates in the State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit and GOMA All Hands Meeting

The GRIIDC team was busy this past March participating in the State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) All Hands Meeting in Houston, Texas from March 26th- 30th. The State of the Gulf Summit, hosted by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI), brought together researchers and policy makers from around the entire Gulf of Mexico, including all three countries that border the Gulf — the United States, Mexico, and Cuba. Important topics were discussed during the conference such as an ecologically and economically sustainable Gulf of Mexico, human health and well-being, restoration, science communication, and the future of the Gulf of Mexico. The GOMA All Hands Meeting was held directly after the Summit so that priority issue teams could meet and collaborate on current and future projects.

The first day of the State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit started off with a bang, as participants got to hear from two inspiring scientists. Dr. Rita Colwell, Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Research Board Chair, kicked off the meeting discussing the One Health concept, which connects environmental health and human health. During a delicious lunch, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Harte Research Institute Founding Advisory Board Chair and National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, spoke to the group about the importance of protecting the Gulf of Mexico. One of her many memorable quotes included, “After the oil spill people asked, are the fish safe to eat? And I wondered are the fish safe?” The day concluded with a dinner featuring a panelist discussion of Cuba’s tourism and conservation science and the balance of the two.

Throughout the two-day State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit, the GRIIDC team attended meetings and managed an exhibit booth to answer questions and provide demonstrations of the data repository. On the second night, as the State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit was wrapping up, the Gulf of Mexico Alliance All Hands Meeting commenced with a Tools Café and reception. Participants socialized and learned about different web-based tools available relating to the Gulf of Mexico. GRIIDC once again participated by showcasing online tools such as the GRIIDC ISO 19115-2 Metadata Editor, the Data Discovery portal, and data management planning tools. Other exciting tools presented included ESRI - Living Atlas, NOAA Sea Level Rise Viewer, Galveston Bay Action Network, Freshwater Network, and Water-CAT.

The GOMA All Hands Meeting continued for the next two days so that priority issue teams could meet, including Coastal Resilience, Wildlife & Fisheries, Marine Debris, Water Resources, Education & Engagement, and Data & Monitoring. GRIIDC participated in the Data & Monitoring meetings discussing GOMA priorities for data and learning about different monitoring resources. Sandra Ellis, GRIIDC Program Manager, participated in a panel discussion focusing on data management efforts around the Gulf.

Although it was a busy week, the GRIIDC team gained valuable knowledge by attending the State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit and the GOMA All Hands Meeting. It was exciting to collaborate and network with tri-national researchers and policy makers all with the same focus of maintaining a healthy and sustainable Gulf of Mexico.