Since 2004, GEOMAR and IMar (formerly INDP) have been closely collaborating in the field of marine sciences and jointly operating an ocean observatory. Interdisciplinary field campaigns as well as long-term observations of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical northeast Atlantic are carried out together. This region has a far-reaching significance for global processes driving climate variability and change both in the oceans and in the atmosphere. This scientific relevance of the tropics, however, is contrasted by a severe lack of scientific infrastructure and long-term observations. From the beginning of the cooperation between GEOMAR and IMar (formerly INDP), the Cape Verde Ocean Observatory (CVOO), located at 100 km northeast off the Island of São Vicente has been linked to the Cape Verde Atmospheric Observatory (CVAO) located in Calhau on São Vicente, a German-British-Cabo Verdean consortium. These two observatories provide a unique opportunity to explore greenhouse biogeochemical interactions between ocean and atmosphere.

In 2008, GEOMAR and IMar (formerly INDP) signed a cooperation agreement with the aim of both partners to provide a sustainable and solid basis for long-term ocean observation and field research in the region and to create opportunities for capacity development and academic education in West Africa. Besides the operation of the observatory, a sampling program onboard the Cabo Verdean research vessel "Islândia" is carried out in regular intervals in addition to expeditions of the German fleet of research vessels  (e.g., R/V METEOR, R/V Maria S. MERIAN, R/V POSEIDON and R/V POLARSTERN). An expansion of this observatory by an onshore research station has long been considered. In 2012, the partners were able to undertake the planning and construction of the Ocean Science Centre Mindelo started in 2015. The OSCM is operational since November 2017.