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Coastal waters represent a challenge for ocean color remote sensing because of their high degree of optical complexity and spatial heterogeneity. Ship-based underway hyperspectral observations of remote sensing reflectance provide a means for improved spatial resolution of optical properties of coastal water masses and greater degrees of freedom for analysis of spectral features attributable to dissolved and particulate constituents. Here we compare underway measurements of surface hyperspectral radiance and irradiance with measurements determined using a profiling multispectral radiometer in coastal waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico. The two measurements were generally consistent and results illustrate the utility of remote sensing reflectance as a means of tracking water mass properties in an optically complex coastal regime, the Mississippi River plume.