Coastal Ocean Observing Benefits to Florida

Conservation and Sustainability

Growing energy demands are pushing oil & gas exploration efforts further offshore, increasing the need for regional-scale baseline environmental data.  These data are also needed for effective coastal and marine spatial planning and the development of ecosystem models to manage fisheries and aquaculture.    

To enhance  and wisely manage the state’s economically important fishing and tourism industries in a sustainable manner, increased oceanographic and other regional-scale environmental data are needed.  SECOORA and the GCOOS-RA have demonstrated the value of ocean observing systems to Floridians:  

  • Storm surge and intensity data are used by the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center.
  • Red tide forecasts aid the state’s $60 billion tourism industry.
  • Real-time oceanographic and model data were critical to the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
  • Ecosystem models are being developed to guide management of Florida’s $11 billion fishing industry, which supports more than 150,000 jobs.

Supporting Florida’s Tourism

Forecasts of weather and ocean conditions are important deciding factors for citizens and visitors planning their recreational activities.  Information from observing system data providers enables Floridians and visitors to make informed decisions.  For example, the University of South Florida’s Fred Howard Park meteorological and tidal station in Tarpon Springs provides water level, tide and wind conditions and is frequently used by kite surfers and kayakers.  Mote Marine Lab’s Beach Conditions Report provides twice-daily updates on red tide, oil and other water quality parameters along 33 of Florida’s west coast beaches (see See Mote's Beach Conditions Report).

Emergency Preparedness & Response

Improved ocean forecasts and predictions of extreme coastal storms and long-term water level changes require increased ocean observations to drive the forecast models.  SECOORA and the GCOOS-RA contribute to minimizing the risk of damage and loss of livesand property by:

  • Providing better data and information for emergency managers to use in making timelyhazard and disaster notifications that minimize personal risks.
  • Providing understanding of the natural processes that produce hazards..

Ports and Homeland Security

Florida ports contribute significantly to the nation’s economy.  With the expected increase in worldwide waterborne trade, there is a growing need to ensure Florida ports can be responsive to expansion opportunities while minimizing terrorist threats.    

  • Information from coastal ocean observing systems provide routine real-time observations and predictions necessary for safe and efficient ship movements in and out of ports. 
  • Radars, once used only as collision-avoidance technology, now support Maritime Domain Awareness via the Automated Identification System (AIS) that monitors vessel traffic. 
  • Biological and chemical sensors assist homeland security in identifying and tracking water borne pollution and counter-acting maritime based terrorism. 

Alternative Energy

The infrastructure and information from coastal ocean observing systems aid the development of alternative energy sources (e.g., offshore wind farms and energy derived from ocean currents, tides and waves) by helping to identify sites that maximize return on the investment and minimize environmental impacts, andby promoting efficiency and safety during operations. 

Towards Coordinated Coastal and Ocean Observing in Florida

The GCOOS-RA and SECOORA have overlapping geographies on the west coast of Florida and share planning and coordination responsibilities.  Working with the Florida Coastal Ocean Observing System Consortium (FLCOOS), a group of Florida-based universities, non-profit organizations and private companies, that collaborate on numerous monitoring, mapping and modeling efforts (e.g., harmful algal blooms and current monitoring), including coordination of data management systems to make information seamless,  easily accessible and more useful. To reach the full potential of the system and maximize efficiencies, the RAs and FLCOOS work together and coordinate activities for the benefit of our common stakeholders—the citizens and visitors of Florida—as part of our nation’s IOOS.


Florida Members

Member Organization/Representative
Florida Atlantic UniversityManhar Dhanak
Florida Fish and Wildlife Research InstituteKathleen O'Keife
Florida Institute of OceanographyWilliam Hogarth
Florida Institute of TechnologyGeorge Maul
Florida International University School of Environment, Arts and SocietyJim Fourqurean
Florida Sea GrantMike Spranger
Florida State UniversityMarkus Huettel
Harbor Branch Oceanographic InstituteDennis Hanisak
Indian River State CollegeEdwin Massey
Jacksonville University Marine Science Research Institute Quinton White
Nova Southeastern UniversityDick Dodge
Roffer's Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service, IncMitch Roffer
University of FloridaPeter Sheng
University of South Florida College of Marine Science Bob Weisberg
Florida International University-International Hurricane Research Center
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric ScienceNick Shay
Rick ColeRDSea International
NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological LaboratoryAlan Leonardi
University of Central FloridaGraham Worthy
Florida Gulf Coast University Felix Jose
OTT HydrometJennifer Zimmerman

Florida Ocean Observing Partners

Florida Resources

View NOAA's Coastal County Snapshots to:

  • Assess a county’s exposure and resilience to flooding
  • Analyze a county’s dependence on the ocean or Great Lakes for a healthy economy
  • Compare counties to each other or for regional analysis
  • Download a PDF report for the snapshot of your choice

More About How Coastal and Ocean Observing Supports Florida

Users can explore and query buoy and other data through the SECOORA Interactive Map

Florida’s oceans and coasts annually provide over $562 billion in cash flow and hundreds of thousands of jobs. Their protection is of critical importance to the state. Photo credit: Chip Cotton.


Port Everglades total financial impact amounts to approximately $18 billion in business activity, 185,000 jobs statewide, and $623.5 million in state and local tax revenue. (


Station at Fred Howard Park, FL. Photo Credit: Cliff Merz