Science Outreach

Science Outreach
Marine Mammal Research Unit

SMM and AMSS Conferences

A full house gathered in a hockey rink in eastern Canada as the pinniped scientists took on the cetacean scientists.

Poster sessions for the international conference on marine mammals were held at center ice in this hockey arena in Nova Scotia

Halifax, Nova Scotia, opened its arms to almost 2,000 marine mammal scientists, managers, and educators in October 2018. The 22nd Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammalsallowed researchers to attend specialized workshops, discover and debate the latest developments in marine mammal science and conservation, and set up future collaborative research projects.

Members of the UBC Marine Mammal Research Unit gave a number of presentations on their research, including:

  • Selina Agbayani: Bioenergetics of migrating grey whales in the face of climate change
  • Sarah Fortune: Combining data from drones, multi-scale time-depth-recorders and prey sampling reveals complex foraging behavior of bowhead whales.
  • Aaron Purdy: Switch vs Slide: Rethinking the aerobic dive limit.
  • Rhea Storlund: The aortic bulb: an adaptation for diving?
  • Andrew Trites: Pre-historic insights into northern fur seals and fishing territories in the Pacific Northwest

Posters were grouped in bays by themes, where researchers could explain their studies and findings to conference delegates one-on-one.

In addition, David Rosen won a People’s Choice Award for his presentation “Dive Steller dive: A decade of shedding light on the energetic consequences of foraging behaviour”, which reviewed the work carried out at the Open Water Research Station.

Anchorage, Alaska, also opened it arms in January to participants attending the annual Alaska Marine Science Symposium. This year, Dr. Rosen presented the findings on his NPRB project, “The efficacy of fecal hormones to detect nutritional status in northern fur seals.”

Scientists have been finding it increasingly difficult to attend scientific meetings due to budgetary cutbacks. This is regretful given the important role these meetings play in disseminating findings to managers, stakeholders and scientists prior to publication. These meetings also provide scientists with early feedback on their research—allowing them to develop, clarify, and refine their work before formal publication. Perhaps most importantly for those holding the research-purse strings, scientific conferences are where new research approaches and tools are first revealed, which can ultimately save researchers time (and money), and accelerate progress.

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