The IOOS Marine Life Program goal is to implement a long-term, sustained marine life observation and data sharing capability that builds on and expands the infrastructure, momentum and successes of existing IOOS biological observing programs, in particular the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON), Animal Telemetry Network (ATN), and efforts of IOOS partners and Regional Associations. The program will leverage well-developed national and regional activities, stakeholder engagement and priority-setting processes, community structures, technology development, interagency coordination, and nearly a decade of National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) interagency investment towards developing this capability.

Focus Areas


Animal Telemetry Network

Gathering information on the behavior and movement of marine animals is an essential part of the responsibilities of our national agencies charged with protecting endangered and threatened marine species as well as providing ecosystem-based management of commercially harvested marine resources. The multi-agency U.S. Animal Telemetry Network (ATN) has been established to provide unity, stability and continuity to the national infrastructure that facilitates the collection, management and availability of this marine animal telemetry data.

Learn more

Marine Biodiversity Observation Network

The US Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (US MBON) is an interagency initiative that seeks to coordinate across sectors and government to characterize biodiversity and understand drivers of change. US MBON represents a broad, collaborative effort to address the need for systematic collection and sharing of marine life information, ensure that information is available for decision-making and management from local to national levels, and document marine biodiversity status and trends in the face of human- and climate-induced change using a range of technologies and approaches. Through the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, NOAA, NASA, Office of Naval Research, and BOEM have invested in US MBON since 2014, most recently announcing new five year projects in 2022.

Learn more

Harmful Algal Blooms

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) occur in marine and freshwater environments across the nation. Blooms can be noxious, discoloring water, and disrupting ecosystems by shading seagrasses or corals and causing oxygen depletion in bottom waters. The most severe impacts are caused by HABs that produce toxins, resulting in illness and even death. HABs are estimated to result in annual economic losses totaling at least 100 million dollars. In recent years, the frequency and duration of HABs, along with the number of species responsible, have all increased. In addition, the geographic range of some HAB species is expanding. Observations and measurements of HAB species and toxins are critical to support early warning and forecasting. IOOS has Pilot Projects to observe HABs and IOOS’ Ocean Technology Transition projects are supporting efforts to address two water quality issues: Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and Hypoxia.

Learn more


SanctSound is a four-year project, managed by NOAA and the U.S. Navy, to better understand underwater sound within national marine sanctuaries. Since the fall of 2018, and through the spring of 2022, the agencies are working with numerous scientific partners to study sound within seven national marine sanctuaries and one marine national monument, in waters off Hawaii and the East and West coasts.

Learn more

Applications/Use Cases

HAB Bulletin

Pacific Northwest HAB Bulletin guides shellfish managers to open harvest early

Habitat Compression Indices

Habitat compression indices for monitoring ocean conditions and ecosystem impacts within coastal upwelling systems

Sharks as Oceanographers

New advances in satellite tag technology allow marine animals to transmit ocean temperature-depth profiles in addition to tracking their movements

Data and Product Guidelines

IOOS Documentation Portal is a collection of IOOS Data Management and Communication (DMAC) guidelines, specifications, and software tools that allow IOOS data provider organizations to publish their data in an interoperable fashion adhering to DMAC principles. This page describes the various components and where to find more information on each.