For more than four decades, the Florida Institute of Oceanography has unified marine science interests across Florida in the cause of understanding and stewardship of the coastal oceans. FIO is taking a leading national role in the scientific assessment of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Florida is a state whose history, economy and culture are intertwined with the waters that surround it. Recognizing the need to protect and understand this central force and shared heritage, 20 institutions and agencies from across the state work collaboratively through FIO to maximize marine research and education resources. FIO’s goal is to provide a forum for addressing the challenges facing our oceans and develop strategies for civic engagement, natural resource management and public policy which preserves and protects ocean resources. The Earth system is changing and the future will require an educated and informed populace and a new generation of ocean scientists, engineers, and policy leaders to maintain a productive and sustainable environment. FIO aims to transform Florida’s scientific capabilities in ocean research while providing the education and marine management skills needed to protect our treasured marine environment.