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The spirit of collaboration aboard Gulf of Mexico cruise
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The spirit of collaboration aboard Gulf of Mexico cruise

This summer, NOAA and partner scientists will conduct their most collaborative ocean acidification sampling of the Gulf of Mexico yet. Set to depart today, July 18th, the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystems and Carbon Cruise (GOMECC-3) will travel through international waters with 24 scientists from the United States, Mexico and Cuba on board.

This comprehensive month-long effort is driven by the growing collaboration within the ocean acidification science community and the multitude of communities that rely on the changing Gulf. The cruise will be the first all inclusive research cruise to document ocean acidification impacts to US living marine resources in the Gulf of Mexico, which is called for under the Federal Ocean Acidification Research And Monitoring Act of 2009 (FOARAM).

Coastal waters in the Gulf are particularly vulnerable to changes in ocean chemistry. Coastal acidification occurs as water in the Gulf of Mexico absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in addition to pollution from local rivers and rain carrying excess nutrients to the Gulf. The marine ecosystems within the Gulf and the coastal communities that rely on their health are threatened by these rapid changes in ocean chemistry.

This research endeavor will serve these communities by covering more ground to monitor coastal acidification. According to NOAA’s 2015 Fisheries Annual Report on Fisheries Economics of the United States, commercial and recreational fishing supports 141,000 jobs and generates $24.7 billion annually in the Gulf of Mexico. This fishing industry not only supports coastal communities but it also provides marine resources to communities around the nation.  Louisiana and Texas generated about half of the U.S. shrimp landings revenue in 2015. The Gulf also supports communities of recreational fisherman and tourists, who are invested in the continued health of this system.

The GOMECC-3 will also serve the growing ocean acidification science community that is working to protect communities globally from experiencing the effects of ocean acidification. In 2013, the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program launched the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON).  This network has helped to connect scientists and increase monitoring efforts across the globe. This summer, this monitoring will stretch even further into the Gulf of Mexico.

The spirit of collaboration that ties together coastal communities around the Gulf of Mexico and ties together the ocean acidification community globally will steer the GOMECC-3 towards unchartered waters this summer. Join this community effort to better understand our changing waters by following our blog regularly: https://gomecc3.wordpress.com/.

For more details, go to: http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/keynotes/keynotes_0717_gomecc3.html

For information, please contact Monica Allen, director of public affairs at NOAA Research, at 301-734-1123 or monica.allen@noaa.gov

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