Author Archives: Katherina Audley

SMM Quarterly Newsletter: April-June 2022



Aloha Marine Mammal Community-

By the time this lands in your inboxes we will be just about one month away from the start of the 24th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals… or SMM2022 for short.  It is hard to believe that after years of planning, postponing, and planning again – it is finally going to happen.  We have passed 1600 virtual and in-person attendees with more people registering every day.  Make sure you visit the conference website for updates on all the exciting workshops, plenaries, special events, and schedules-at-a-glance.  Our conference team has been tireless and despite a massive amount of adversity, they have created an incredible program.  Make sure you are part of it and register for SMM2022.

While the conference is nearly all-consuming right now, there are a few other things on my mind.  The most important of which is the future of the SMM.  One of my last duties as President will be to meet and talk to as many people as possible at the conference to find potential future SMM board members and leaders.  Regrettably, that is harder to do with our virtual attendees or those that won’t be able to participate at all.  

So this is my last call to our membership community in the lead up to the conference.  At the general members meeting we will be finalizing our slate of candidates for the next election which should happen sometime in September.  This Society only works when we have a diverse group of  committed energetic people stepping into leadership roles.  I know there are lots of reasons not to put your name forward but there are an equal number to do it.  Most importantly, this is a real opportunity to do great things for members of our community and the animals we work so diligently to understand and conserve.  Yes, it is work and we all have so little bandwidth right now, but you will be surrounded by a team of amazing people working towards a common goal.

So if you have ever complained about something in our Society – sign up and be part of  improving it.  If you feel that your views, culture, or values are underrepresented in our community – then become part of the leadership team to help amplify those quiet voices.  

Okay…thats my pitch.  If you have questions about the Board feel free to email me or track me down at the conference.  Of course you can bypass me and just send your self-nomination to elections@marinemammalscience.org.

Be safe everyone and I look forward to seeing many of you in August!

With much aloha,

Charles Littnan
President, Society for Marine Mammalogy

Here we are, one scant month from the start of the 24th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals. It’s been two and a half years since we last convened as colleagues and friends, and while much has changed in the world, the important things are still the same. We choose to gather together to share our science, our stories, our similarities, and our uniqueness. Your conference committee has worked diligently to provide not only an in person experience that we’ve come to expect through the years, but also a new virtual experience to help bridge the gaps in our society’s ability to meet and collaborate. We are ready to welcome you to Palm Beach, Florida, whether in person or virtually, from around the corner or halfway around the world, and we look forward to seeing you at SMM2022!

Your SMM2022 Conference Committee,

Amy, Jeremy, Steve, Sascha

The Louis M. Herman Research Scholarship 2022 Winners

Yes, winners, plural! The quality of submissions was so high this year, the Awards Committee recommended that two applicants be recognised and the Herman family very generously agreed to provide full funding for both. And the winners are:
 

 “Eavesdropping on Whales – Does Humpback Whale Song Convey Genetic Quality?” 

Submitted by Franca Eichenberger, the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.

Abstract

Despite a plethora of studies, the underlying function(s) of the complex vocal display of male humpback whales remains to be unravelled. To understand the contribution of inter-sexual drivers on the function(s) of humpback whale song, the potential benefits to a female that exhibits a preference need to be evaluated. Today, more advanced methods of data collection, lab and data analyses offer new insights into the genetics, physiology and communication of whales. In birds, song complexity was found to advertise optimal Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) diversity, a trait affecting disease and parasite resistance. By choosing mates with complex song, female songbirds may enhance the immunocompetence and disease resistance of their offspring. Here, I aim to assess whether male humpback whale song conveys genetic quality and whether females use that information to assess and choose their potential mates. Using a long-term data set (> 25 years) of 1,618 genotyped humpback whales from a population breeding off New Caledonia, South Pacific, and song recordings of identified singers I 1) explore the link between song complexity and MHC diversity, and 2) investigate the possibility of an MHC-mediated female mating preference. I employ an integrative analysis of behaviour, new cutting-edge genetic techniques and acoustic data that seeks to improve our understanding of the complex mating behaviours of humpback whales and their role within the proposed polygynous mating system. My work will also add to our comprehension of cetacean culture by improving our understanding of how cultural behaviour may affect fitness.  

“Exploring vocal development in humpback whales” 

Submitted by Julia Zeh of Syracuse University, USA.

Abstract

Despite decades of study of the complex vocal behavior of humpback whales, the vocal repertoire of juveniles remains undescribed and it is still unclear when and how humpback whales begin to sing. In 2013, Herman et al. found that a portion of males singing on the breeding ground are likely sexually immature, raising questions about the behavior of sexually immature whales and the ontogeny of humpback whale song. The project proposed here aims to fill this important gap in our knowledge of humpback whale behavioral ecology and communication using suction cup acoustic recording tags to collect data on individual vocal behavior. This study will take place on the breeding grounds in Maui, Hawai’i within the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (HIHWNMS), where a large population of whales across different age classes migrates each winter. In addition to tag deployments, I will collect focal follow behavioral observations, photo ID, and biopsy samples of tagged whales. I will then measure acoustic parameters of individual whale vocalizations from the tags and model these parameters as a function of whale age class and sex. Since humpback whales are capable of vocal learning, a trait rare in nonhuman mammals, an understanding of their vocal development will provide insight into comparative studies of the evolution of complex vocal displays and vocal learning in mammals.  

Congratulations to both our winners! And many thanks to the Review Panel for all your hard work and to the Herman family for their continued generosity.

SMM Conference Judges Wanted! 

We need judges for the conference awards! As this year’s conference will be a hybrid event, judges do not need to attend in person but must be registered conference participants. and may provide their time and expertise online. Interested? Email me now! (awardschair@marinemammalsociety.org

The Taxonomy Committee conducted its 2022 review of new proposals to changes in marine mammal taxonomy.  After review of eight new publications, the Committee made the following changes to the accepted taxonomy:  1) Recognition of a new species of beaked whale, Ramari’s beaked whale, Mesoplodon eueu, from the Southern Hemisphere based on the work by Carroll et al. (2021); 2) Removal of the fin whale subspecies Balaenoptera physalus patachonica from the Taxonomy list based on a recent genetic analysis by Pérez-Avarez et al. (2021). The authors found no evidence for significant differentiation between the two Southern Hemisphere subspecies Balaenoptera physalus patachonica and B. p. quoyi.  All Southern Hemisphere fin whales will now be considered B. p. quoyi; 3) Return to the use of Order Artiodactyla rather than Cetartiodactyla following the publication by Prothero et al. (2022).

Cited publications:

Carroll, E.L., M. R. McGowen, M. L. McCarthy, F. G. Marx, N. Aguilar, M. L. Dalebout, S. Dreyer, O. E. Gaggiotti, S. S. Hansen, A. van Helden, A. B. Onoufriou, R. W. Baird, C. S. Baker, S. Berrow, D. Cholewiak, D. Claridge, R. Constantine, N. J. Davison, C. Eira, R. E. Fordyce, J. Gatesy, G. J. Greg Hofmeyr, V. Martín, J. G. Mead, A. A. Mignucci-Giannoni, P. A. Morin, C. Reyes, E. Rogan, M. Rosso, M. A. Silva, M. S. Springer, D. Steel and M. Tange Olsen. 2021. Speciation in the deep: genomics and morphology reveal a new species of beaked whale Mesoplodon eueu. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 288:20211213.

Pérez-Alvarez, M., S. Kraft, N. I. Segovia, C. Olavarría, S. Nigenda-Morales, R. J. Urbán, L. Viloria-Gómora, F. Archer, R. Moraga, M. Sepúlveda, and M. Santos-Carvallo. 2021. Contrasting phylogeographic patterns among Northern and Southern Hemisphere fin whale populations with new data from the Southern Pacific. Frontiers in Marine Science 8:630233.

Prothero, D. R., D. Domning, R. E. Fordyce, S. Foss, C. Janis, S. Lucas, K. L. Marriott, G. Metais, D. Naish, K. Padian and G. Rössner. 2022. On the unnecessary and misleading taxon “Cetartiodactyla”. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 29:93-97.

The 2022-2023 Small-Grants-in Aid of Research (SGIAR) application process opened on June 1st and closed on June 30.  The SGIAR supports marine mammal research in countries where scientists have less access to research funds. Individual awards are up to $2000, and 25% of the total budget may be requested as stipend. This year, we received 38 applications. Submissions have been assigned to reviewers and applicants will be notified of the results in September 2022. In 2021, we received 42 submissions from 12 countries! And we were able to support 43% of the proposals submitted. Information about eligible countries and applicants, as well as information about how to apply can be found here. Follow our social media for updates. For technical questions regarding the online application contact admin@marinemammalscience.org and for questions about the grant please contact me at science@marinemammalscience.org

SMM Editors’ Select Series

Over the last year, the Student Members-at-Large (SMaLs) and the Editors of our society’s journal, Marine Mammal Science, have organized the SMM Editors’ Select Series. This ongoing speaker series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the journal, as presented by the authors. This is your chance to engage with marine mammal scientists from around the world from the comfort of your home!

Seminars happen once a month, typically on the third Thursday. Details about the speaker and registration links are sent via email each month. You can join us free on Zoom (registration required) or watch the live stream through the Society for Marine Mammalogy’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/marinemammalogy
Seminars are recorded and uploaded to our YouTube channel here.

This June, Dr. Brenna Frasier presented, “Examining the Eastern North Atlantic right whale: insights from genetic analysis”:
 

Thanks to everyone who voted in the recent ballot.  An overwhelming majority voted in favour of all of the proposed changes.  Just to remind you, these changes include extending the duration of the student membership, eliminating the “associate member” category, facilitating the extension of the terms of office for some of the board members because of the knock on effects of the COVID pandemic, allowing the Editor of Marine Mammal Science to receive a stipend and a clarification on the role of the Board of Editors of Marine Mammal Science. Members also voted in favour of reviewing SMM committee membership every two years and a change to the SMM membership dues.  All of these changes will be made to the SMM constitution/governing documents and changes to the membership dues will take place after the SMM Conference 2022.  

May I also add to Charles’ request in relation to new Board members.  If there is anyone who would like to stand for any of the elected positions: President elect, Secretary, Treasurer, Member at Large and Student Member at Large, please get in touch. Would love to hear from you.

We are excited to announce that the Women in Marine Mammal Science (WIMMS) Initiative, in association with the Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM) Ad-hoc Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Committee, is hosting a webinar entitled “Experiences of Women in Marine Mammal Science.” Since not all women have had the same experiences in our field, due to a diversity of backgrounds, career levels, cultures, work environments, or family considerations, we are convening a diverse panel of women to participate in the webinar as speakers and panelists. 

We will be holding the webinar on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, from 4-6pm GMT+1.
The first hour of the webinar will consist of an introduction to the WIMMS Initiative followed by a 10-15 min talk by each invited speaker. The second hour will be a Q&A panel discussion with the speakers. We will generate and solicit questions in advance of the webinar, but we will also take questions from the live attendees during the event. 
Webinar registrants will also have access to a free virtual screening of the film “Picture a Scientist” for a 3-day period overlapping the webinar.
Register for the webinar here: http://tinyurl.com/2p8uw2b5

Hope to see everyone there!

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

SMM Quarterly Newsletter: January-March 2022


Aloha Marine Mammal Community-

It is hard to believe that it is already March and with it comes the end of early bird registration and the start of the five month countdown to our 24th Biennial Conference.  There is good news from the Conference Committee below, so I will just say that I am finally feeling the energy and expectations building for the conference.  There is much work to be done between now and August, but our large team of people helping to plan the meeting are going to give you an amazing experience.  

I want to thank the many people that sat in on our first ever inter-conference meeting to get a quick update from the Board and ask any pressing questions they had.  We weren’t sure if there would be much interest in this type of meeting outside of the conferences.  Given the turnout we will continue to host these virtual members’ meetings in non-conference years to make sure you have more opportunity to influence where the board of governors takes our Society.

One piece of Society news I am personally very excited about is the first meeting of our ad hoc Science Communication Committee.  For years, I have wanted to pull together a core group of people to focus on rethinking the way the Society communicates internally to our members and outwards to the world-at-large.  There is so much exciting work to be done and we continue to narrow and refine our committee’s mission.  But as a sneak peak, we are currently developing strategies around these 6 draft objectives: 

  1. Increase awareness of the conservation plight of marine mammals and highlight the efforts supported by the SMM.

  2. Enhance the profile of our society’s journal Marine Mammal Science by creatively communicating the science published.

  3. Ensure best practices and training are established to ensure that science supported by the SMM includes engagement with and inclusion of host communities and that the scientific products are shared back with communities in a way useful to their needs and purposes.

  4. Establish ourselves as a trusted and go-to source for marine mammal science and conservation information for the media.

  5. Increase the public profile of the SMM and improve financial support through sponsors, donations, legacy giving, etc. 

  6. Provide training, resources and opportunities for society members to better communicate their science in a variety of forums. 

It is early in the process for this committee and many hands will make light work.  So if you fancy yourself to be a savvy communicator, have a relevant skill set (graphic design, marketing, script writing, speaking skill, etc.) we ask you to consider joining the team.  We have big plans, amazing stories to tell, and a world that embraces all things marine mammals.  The potential is amazing.  Get on board!  If interested in hearing more, you can send me an email.

I promised myself this would be short, and I failed again.  I will stop now.  Please keep scrolling down.  There are exciting updates from our tireless conference organizers, our awards committee, and our education program is announcing some great new project ideas.  Spoiler alert: to make them successful, the Conference Committee and Education Committee are going to need bright energetic people like YOU to make them successful. Get involved!

Thanks again to my SMM team and to all our members for their contributions to our field.  Be safe everyone.

With much aloha,

Charles Littnan
President, Society for Marine Mammalogy

P.S.  Don't forget that our March Ballot is currently open for members to vote on many items important to running our Society.  Please take 5 minutes to log in and vote by April 8. 

First, we want to welcome everyone to (drum roll, please) SMM2022! With a respectful nod to all the turmoil, frustration, and grief that the global community has been subjected to over the past two years, the SMM conference team thought now would be a very good time to rechristen the 24th Biennial Conference from SMM2021 to SMM2022. And with that, we welcome everyone to Palm Beach, Florida – in person and virtual.

Following a second,  abbreviated abstract submission and evaluation in January and then the close of Early Bird registration on March 1, we are happy to report that currently more than 1400 people are fully registered, 55% in person and 45% virtual.  We encourage everyone to register as soon as you can and make your hotel reservation in one of the three dedicated conference hotels. All three establishments have and follow established Covid protocols, and will continue to, for the safety of all guests, employees, and vendors.

In person volunteers are needed at the conference! After the completion of a minimum of 12 hours work at the conference, you will be reimbursed $150 US. To volunteer, visit smmconference.org and fill out the application under Volunteer. If you have previously filled out your application, you do not need to do so again. You will be contacted soon. 

SMM2022 giveaways started March 15 and continue monthly on the 15th of the month through July. Congrats to our first winners!  Everyone registered by the 1st of each month will be eligible for the monthly drawings for the respective in person and virtual giveaways. Prizes include airline vouchers, hotel stays, registrations, and SMM memberships among other items.

SMM2022 will incorporate a variety of new looks and activities. We look forward to seeing everyone at Palm Beach in August! 

Your SMM2021 Conference Committee,

Amy, Jeremy, Steve, Sascha

The EBS Award

The Awards Committee is excited to announce the winner of the EBS Award. This award is given in honour of Emily B. Shane (1924-1995), a fine amateur naturalist and dedicated conservationist.  The EBS award supports non-harmful, field research on free-ranging odontocetes and sirenians and is awarded to projects that are both conservation-oriented and that positively impact local human communities. A diverse array of applications were received from ten countries, from across our globe. 

We are delighted to announce that the winners this year are Sergio Cobarrubia-Russo, from Venezuela, for his proposal entitled Characterization of dolphin feeding areas and artisanal fishermen area for immediate conservation action through citizen science in  Aragua, Venezuela and Kumar Sahayaraju is our second recipient for his project entitled Fostering an inclusive, locally driven approach to conserving cetaceans in southwest India.

The last Newsletter estimated it would take 6 weeks to review the applications and we apologise, as it took a little longer than that! Thank you to all our expert reviewers and to the Awards Committee, who completed the review process. 

The Louis M. Herman Research Scholarship 2022

A call for proposals for the Louis M. Herman Research Scholarship was announced in our last newsletter.  This scholarship supports research projects that contribute to our understanding of either cetacean cognition and sensory perception (laboratory or field studies), or humpback whale behavioral ecology or communication. The application closing date was 7th February 2022 and we received 17 applications from nine countries; the United States of America (8), Costa Rica (2), Canada (1), Scotland (1), Nicaragua (1), Madagascar (1), Hong Kong SAR (1), Mexico (1) and Colombia (1). It is planned to notify the award recipient by April 16, 2022, so watch the SMM webpage and social media for the announcement. Thank you to all who applied and a big thank you to the Louis Herman Review Panel who are assessing the applications as I write this!  

SMM Conference Judging 

The Awards Committee’s next challenge is to judge the Conference Awards! As this year’s conference will be a hybrid event, judges do not need to attend in person and may provide their time and expertise online. A formal call for judges will be made very soon, however, if you are keen to know more, please get in touch! (awardschair@marinemammalsociety.org

We are pleased to announce two new stellar additions to the education committee, Nirja and Abby. We also bid a fond farewell to Elisabeth Fahrni-Mansur and Patty Sullivan for their extraordinary work on the training framework and overall contributions to the Education Committee these past few years. We have been updating our SMM webpages with all the products from the Education Committee. Please check them out here. We shall soon have a dedicated Wiki species page – stay tuned for that.

Welcome Nirja Raju, Expert Advisor, Education Committee and SMM Science Communications Ad-hoc Member

Nirja is a storyteller who believes that narratives can empower communities by inspiring thought and action. Her media, marketing, and strategy background has enabled her to share the stories of small businesses, local culture, shopping local, and the joys of slow travel. She works in the EdTech sector to help young minds learn by creating engaging educational experiences. She is an Expert Advisor to the Education Committee. She will be involved in the SMM Science Communication ad-hoc committee to improve the overall communications strategy for marine mammal science and conservation. Nirja finds herself most at home by the ocean when diving, surfing, or just watching the waves. 

 

Welcome, Abby Haddock, Marine Mammal Species Wiki Coordinator

Abby Haddock is a research assistant at Dolphin Research Center focused on bottlenose dolphin behavior and cognition, with a background in marine biology and marine science from the University of Miami. She has taught marine mammal science for over 8 years in South Florida and the Keys, from kindergarteners to college classrooms to retirees. Abby is continuing SMM’s Wikipedia project and is excited to add more pages to the amazing work that our student curators have already created.

 

 Student Curators in High Demand

If anyone is interested in either becoming a curator or being an expert reviewer for curated pages, feel free to contact me at abigail.haddock@dolphins.org.

Seeking New Members

We are looking for students and new general members to add to the education committee. Students can independently lead projects or assist committee members on ongoing and planned projects.

General Members can support ongoing projects or propose a new idea. Potential members should consider submitting a project idea that can be implemented within a one-year time frame. You can work individually, with other committees or the SMM community. 

If interested, please submit a CV and short blurb describing your reasons for joining the education committee. All prospective members need to have active SMM memberships. Financial membership waivers are available if needed. See below for future projects that you can be involved in.

Proposed Projects

1.  Oversee Student-led International Live Classrooms: Seeking an individual or individuals who would be interested in engaging in a bi- or tri-national live student-led marine mammal science class. The target age group for this project is middle or high-school students. Instructors will teach a specific group of students (specific grade and city in a country) on their regional marine mammal species occurrence, science, and conservation issues. The instructed students will engage in a live interactive session (1–2-hour session) with students from another country and share what they have learned. The medium of instruction will be English unless the countries involved share or understand a common language, e.g., Spanish. This project can involve SMM members and does not require membership to the Education Committee. But we will require a committee member to serve as a facilitator and project coordinator. 

2.  Conduct interviews with your favorite regional scientist: At the World Marine Mammal Science Conference in Barcelona, we conducted pilot interviews with four premier marine mammal scientists. These standardized interviews have been posted on our website and on SMM’s YouTube channel. Interviews are meant to be conducted in the native language of the scientist plus English if possible. We aim to interview scientists from all parts of the world (with different backgrounds and specializations) to encourage students to connect with their national or local scientists.

Please contact Mridula (education@marinemammalscience.org) regarding these available opportunities or if you have a brilliant project idea for the Education Committee to pursue short or long-term.

Marine Mammal Science has just added two new Associate Editors, Dr. Denis Risch from the Scottish Association for Marine Science at Oban, Scotland, UK, and Dr. Sofie van Parijs from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, NOAA at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA. Denise and Sofie will focus on papers dealing with  bioacoustics, passive acoustic monitoring and communication behavior. They will be replacing Dr. Renata Sousa-lima, who has asked to step down from the Board of Editors as soon as the papers that she is currently handling have received a final decision. Please thank Renata for her service helping to make the Society’s journal a premier international science journal and welcome Denise and Sofie for their willingness to serve as Associate Editors.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Final Week to Apply for the 2022 Louis M. Herman Research Scholarship

Louis M. Herman Research Scholarship 2022

This is the final week to apply for the 2022 cycle of the Louis M. Herman Research Scholarship

Criteria
The Louis M. Herman Research Scholarship supports a research project that contributes to our understanding of either cetacean cognition and sensory perception (laboratory or field studies), or humpback whale behavioral ecology or communication. Work with other marine mammals that especially enhances our understanding of their cognitive abilities will also be considered. Eligible candidates include graduate students and those students who have completed their Masters or PhD within the past three years. The award is for a maximum of USD 5000 (~AUD6900; ~Mexican Peso 100,000; ~Fijian Dollar 10,000; ~EUR 4500). Details can also be found on the SMM website.

The application must include the following materials and be submitted by Monday, 7 February 2022, via the upload link here. (https://forms.gle/LG21rZYPBbiEggGp6)

Materials required

  • Cover Page (form)
    • Applicant Name
    • Email
    • Proposal Title
    • School/Affiliation
    • Degree (include date received or anticipated graduation date)
    • Total Project Budget
    • Project Location/Laboratory
    • Project Start Date
    • Project End Date
    • Project Abstract (300 word limit)

 

  • Project Abstract (300 word limit).  Briefly summarize your project.  (This should be the same as the language you enter in the form).

 

  • Project Proposal. Describe proposed project following the labelled sections below. Proposal should not exceed 3 pages in length (Times font, 12-point type, single-spaced, 1-in margins).
    • Background. Include overarching problem/challenge research will address and literature review
    • Project Importance and Relevance. What contributions or advancements will the proposed research make to marine mammal science?  In addition, what is the role of the proposed work in enhancing our understanding of cetacean (or other marine mammal) cognition and sensory perception or humpback whale behavioral ecology or communication. Please include how your project reflects or builds upon the research and interests of Dr. Herman and/or how your career has been influenced by his work.
    • Goals and Objectives. Statement of overall goals and measurable objectives
    • Methods. Include project design, location, field site or laboratory procedures, equipment, and analysis plan. If you are working in a laboratory setting, provide information on the research subjects, including their research experience (e.g., # of subjects, sex, age, years of research experience, etc.).
    • Outreach Plan. Please describe how you plan to share your research progress and findings (e.g., presentations, publications, social media, etc.)
    • Project Timeline. Include a time frame for all elements of the project.

 

  • References Cited.

 

  • Project Personnel. List each key person(s) conducting the research and their role (e.g., Project PI, Field Leader, etc., and make sure to list yourself).

 

  • Project Budget. A detailed budget, including itemized justification.  Please make sure to include:
    • Budget for the full project if it exceeds the award amount
    • How the award monies will be used specifically for the proposed project
    • Information on other funding applied for or already secured

 

  • Current Curriculum Vitae.

 

  • Letters of Reference. Two (2) professional letters of reference.
    • Letters should include the referee’s email address, phone number, and relationship to the applicant. For students, one of these letters should be from the student’s supervisor.

 

  • Research Permits. Verification of necessary research permits and/or authorizations.

 

  • Degree. Verification that the student is currently enrolled in a university degree program or proof of a graduate degree.

Evaluation Categories and Scoring

  • Importance and Relevance. Is this project likely to make a minor contribution/advancement to the relevant areas or a major one? How well does the project address the criteria of the award (above)? Is the proposal focused on a topic directly related to Dr. Herman’s research and findings and does the proposal specifically describe this relevance in detail?  (15 points)
  • Scientific Quality.  This criterion is meant to address whether the specific aspects of the proposal are appropriate to achieve the stated goals and objectives of the proposal.  Examples of project aspects to consider are the overall project design (is it well thought out and logical?),  field and/or lab methods (best practice? the right ones to use?), equipment and/or facilities or study site (right ones for the job?), study subjects if working in a laboratory setting (are these experienced or naive animals?), analyses (appropriate for the research design, rigorous, state-of-the art?) (15 points)
  • Quality of Writing and Presentation. Is the proposal well-written and clear? Are all required aspects of the proposal present and easy to understand? (5 points)
  • Likelihood of Success.  Considering Scientific Quality, applicant’s CV and other key personnel on the project, methods, timeline, funding, etc., how likely is it that the project will achieve its goals and desired outcomes. (5 points)
  • Outreach Plan.  Is the outreach plan appropriate and meaningful?  What kind of reach will these findings have and is it appropriate to the goals of the research?  (5 points)
  • Budget.  Is the budget appropriate and justified?  Does the funding play a meaningful role in the overall success of the project? (5 points)
  • References. Are the references strong, average, or below average in support of the applicant and the project? (5 points)

Award Recipient Notification
The award recipient will be notified by 16 April 2022 with an expectation that the awardee will submit to present their research project at the subsequent Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals. We will award up to $500 to support travel costs contingent on an accepted submission and completed presentation.

Enquiries
Via email to the Awards and Scholarships Chair, Lindsay Porter (awardschair@marinemammalscience.org)

SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series: Friends Through Thick and Thin: How Injuries Disrupt Bottlenose Dolphin Associations

The SMM Seminar Editor’s Select Series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn and ask questions. All are welcome.

Thursday, 16 December 2021 at 4 PM EDT (1 PM PDT / 9 PM UTC)
SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series:
Friends Through Thick and Thin: How Injuries Disrupt Bottlenose Dolphin Associations

About this talk:
Social connectivity is important for measuring the fitness of common bottlenose dolphins because social relationships can enhance survival, reproduction and foraging success.  Human-related injuries such as boat strikes or fishing gear entanglements can potentially remove an individual from its association network and disrupt these relationships. Using data from the long-term resident dolphin community in Sarasota Bay, Florida, we investigated how these injuries affect the dolphins’ social associations by examining the differences in their social networks before and after injury. We found that while injured dolphins were found in groups of similar size to those prior to their injury, their number of preferential associations (i.e., their best friends) seemed to decline immediately after injury but were often regained within two years following injury. An individual’s strongest associations, namely those between mothers and calves and those between male alliance partners, remained stable before and after injury. Because dolphins rely on these relationships for survival, increased occurrence of injury from boating and fishing may put the animals at greater risk for long-term survival, including making them more vulnerable to predation.

About the presenter and co-authors:
Michelle Greenfield is a veterinary student at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (2023). She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University where she began her research with the Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program. Since then, Michelle has continued her studies of marine mammals working with organizations such as Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute and the United States Navy’s Marine Mammal Program. Her research interests focus on bottlenose dolphin social behavior and regenerative medicine in marine mammals. In addition to her research and clinical work, Michelle is the producer and host of Aquadocs Podcast, a top 50 life sciences podcast and the leading podcast on aquatic veterinary medicine (www.aquadocspodcast.com).

Open access to all Marine Mammal Science papers is available to current SMM members. Open access to this article will be made temporarily available to the public during the week prior to and of the presentation.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select  presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUc78IynQlubS2DVS1VZoplf_t42-yZOO

 

SMM Quarterly Newsletter: October-December 2021

The Society for Marine Mammalogy


24th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals | Palm Beach, Florida December 13-17, 2021

SMM Editors’ Select Series: Patterns of mortality in endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales with Dr. Tamara McGuire

The SMM Seminar Editor’s Select Series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn and ask questions. All are welcome.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021 at 2 PM AKST (3 PM PDT / 10 PM UTC)
SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series:
Patterns of mortality in endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales:
Insights from pairing a long-term photo-identification study with stranding records with Dr. Tamara McGuire of the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo-ID Project.

About this talk:
To understand why endangered beluga whales in Cook Inlet Alaska are not recovering despite over a decade of legal protections, we need to understand recent demographic patterns and sources of the population’s mortality. We used photographic records of individually identified live belugas collected over 13 years and combined them with stranding data from belugas found dead during the same period to assess mortality patterns.  Dead females and males were evenly represented. For both males and females, mortality rates were greatest in reproductive-aged adults, and there were no very-old adults. Live stranding was the most commonly assigned cause of death, but did not account for the majority of deaths. The cause(s) of most deaths and live strandings were undetermined. Our analysis advances the current understanding of mortality patterns in CIBWs, but linking a greater proportion of carcasses to photo-ID individuals and collecting more data from stranded carcasses would further improve our understanding of the causes of mortality in this population; we conclude with recommendations for achieving this.

About the presenter and co-authors:
Dr. Tamara McGuire is the Principal Investigator for the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo-ID project. She has studied marine mammals for over 25 years and is interested in habitat use, life history, behavior, and the effects of human activities on endangered and threatened aquatic species and their habitats. She has studied marine mammals in Alaska since 2006, and before that on the Oregon Coast and in the Orinoco and Amazon River Basins. She has worked with Federal, Tribal, and State agencies, NGOs, and private industry. She led the Cook Inlet Beluga Recovery Team and is an advocate for collaborative research. Kim Shelden is a marine biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration based at the Marine Mammal Laboratory of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. She has worked for the Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program since 1990 studying species present seasonally and year-round in Alaska waters including Cook Inlet belugas, North Pacific right whales, bowhead whales, gray whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and harbor porpoise. Dr. Gina Himes Boor is Assistant Research Professor in the Ecology Department Montana State University. Her research focuses on developing models to better understand the demographic and spatial-use patterns that contribute to the decline and recovery of imperiled species. Amber Stephens has studied marine mammals since 1998, including beluga whales, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, narwhals, and Pacific walrus.  A CI on the CIBW Photo-ID Project, her responsibilities include cataloging, field work, public outreach, and website management. John McClung joined the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo-ID Project in 2017 and has over ten years of photo-identification experience of cetaceans including humpback whales, melon-headed whales, and belugas. Prior to receiving his MS in wildlife science from Oregon State University, he served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force. Christopher Garner is a biologist for the Department of Defense at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.  He has studied beluga and harbor porpoise in upper Cook Inlet since 2001 with emphasis on beluga ecology within rivers emptying into a hypertidal region as well as the effects of military activity on marine mammals and their prey. Dr. Carrie Goertz is the Director of Animal Health at the Alaska SeaLife Center where she oversees veterinary care for animals in the aquarium and out in the field, working with sea birds, fish, invertebrates, sea otters, seals, sea lions, beluga, and other marine animals. Dr. Kathy Burek Huntington has been the pathologist for the Alaska stranding program and in particular for the Cook Inlet belugas for 23 years and works collaboratively with the rest of the stranding network throughout Alaska. She is particularly interested in emerging pathogens, harmful algal bloom toxins, pathology, the intersections of these topics with climate change, and mentoring young scientists in pathology. Dr. Greg O’Corry-Crowe is a behavioral ecologist and geneticist focused on marine mammals and conservation. He runs the Wildlife Evolution and Behavior (WEB) program at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and is a research professor at Florida Atlantic University. Bruce Wright is an ecologist with the Knik Tribe whose work focuses on Alaska marine and terrestrial top predators.

Open access to all Marine Mammal Science papers is available to current SMM members. Open access to this article will be made temporarily available to the public during the week prior to and of the presentation.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select  presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUc78IynQlubS2DVS1VZoplf_t42-yZOO

SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series: Patterns of mortality in endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales

You are invited to the next edition of the SMM Seminar Editor’s Select Series. This series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn and ask questions. All are welcome.

Join us on Tuesday, 16 November 2021 at 2 PM AKST (3 PM PDT / 10 PM UTC)
for the next SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series:
Patterns of mortality in endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales:
Insights from pairing a long-term photo-identification study with stranding records with Dr. Tamara McGuire of the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo-ID Project.

Free to attend. Registration required. Presented online on Zoom.
Register here: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_O7140C1TR7-CREClYeWLkw
Space on Zoom is limited to the first 500 attendees. The talk will also be streamed live on the SMM Facebook page.

About this talk:
To understand why endangered beluga whales in Cook Inlet Alaska are not recovering despite over a decade of legal protections, we need to understand recent demographic patterns and sources of the population’s mortality. We used photographic records of individually identified live belugas collected over 13 years and combined them with stranding data from belugas found dead during the same period to assess mortality patterns.  Dead females and males were evenly represented. For both males and females, mortality rates were greatest in reproductive-aged adults, and there were no very-old adults. Live stranding was the most commonly assigned cause of death, but did not account for the majority of deaths. The cause(s) of most deaths and live strandings were undetermined. Our analysis advances the current understanding of mortality patterns in CIBWs, but linking a greater proportion of carcasses to photo-ID individuals and collecting more data from stranded carcasses would further improve our understanding of the causes of mortality in this population; we conclude with recommendations for achieving this.

About the presenter and co-authors:
Dr. Tamara McGuire is the Principal Investigator for the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo-ID project. She has studied marine mammals for over 25 years and is interested in habitat use, life history, behavior, and the effects of human activities on endangered and threatened aquatic species and their habitats. She has studied marine mammals in Alaska since 2006, and before that on the Oregon Coast and in the Orinoco and Amazon River Basins. She has worked with Federal, Tribal, and State agencies, NGOs, and private industry. She led the Cook Inlet Beluga Recovery Team and is an advocate for collaborative research. Kim Shelden is a marine biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration based at the Marine Mammal Laboratory of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. She has worked for the Cetacean Assessment and Ecology Program since 1990 studying species present seasonally and year-round in Alaska waters including Cook Inlet belugas, North Pacific right whales, bowhead whales, gray whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and harbor porpoise. Dr. Gina Himes Boor is Assistant Research Professor in the Ecology Department Montana State University. Her research focuses on developing models to better understand the demographic and spatial-use patterns that contribute to the decline and recovery of imperiled species. Amber Stephens has studied marine mammals since 1998, including beluga whales, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, narwhals, and Pacific walrus.  A CI on the CIBW Photo-ID Project, her responsibilities include cataloging, field work, public outreach, and website management. John McClung joined the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo-ID Project in 2017 and has over ten years of photo-identification experience of cetaceans including humpback whales, melon-headed whales, and belugas. Prior to receiving his MS in wildlife science from Oregon State University, he served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force. Christopher Garner is a biologist for the Department of Defense at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.  He has studied beluga and harbor porpoise in upper Cook Inlet since 2001 with emphasis on beluga ecology within rivers emptying into a hypertidal region as well as the effects of military activity on marine mammals and their prey. Dr. Carrie Goertz is the Director of Animal Health at the Alaska SeaLife Center where she oversees veterinary care for animals in the aquarium and out in the field, working with sea birds, fish, invertebrates, sea otters, seals, sea lions, beluga, and other marine animals. Dr. Kathy Burek Huntington has been the pathologist for the Alaska stranding program and in particular for the Cook Inlet belugas for 23 years and works collaboratively with the rest of the stranding network throughout Alaska. She is particularly interested in emerging pathogens, harmful algal bloom toxins, pathology, the intersections of these topics with climate change, and mentoring young scientists in pathology. Dr. Greg O’Corry-Crowe is a behavioral ecologist and geneticist focused on marine mammals and conservation. He runs the Wildlife Evolution and Behavior (WEB) program at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and is a research professor at Florida Atlantic University. Bruce Wright is an ecologist with the Knik Tribe whose work focuses on Alaska marine and terrestrial top predators.

Open access to all Marine Mammal Science papers is available to current SMM members. Open access to this article will be made temporarily available to the public during the week prior to and of the presentation.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select  presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUc78IynQlubS2DVS1VZoplf_t42-yZOO

Editor’s Select Series Seminar: A comparison of Northeast Atlantic killer whale call repertoires

The SMM Seminar Editor’s Select Series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn and ask questions. All are welcome.

21 October 2021 at 4 PM UTC (9 AM PDT)
SMM Editors’ Select Series Seminar: A comparison of Northeast Atlantic killer whale call repertoires
with Anna Selbmann of University of Iceland

The SMM Seminar Editors’ Select Series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. This is your chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn and ask questions from anywhere in the world. All are welcome.

About this talk:
Killer whale call repertoires can provide information on social connections among groups and populations. Killer whales in Iceland and Norway exhibit similar ecology and behavior, are genetically related, and are presumed to have been in contact before the collapse of the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock in the 1960s. However, photo-identification suggests no recent movements between Iceland and Norway but regular movement between Iceland and Shetland. We used acoustic recordings collected in Iceland, Norway, and Shetland to undertake a comprehensive comparison of the call repertoires of Northeast Atlantic killer whales. Time and frequency parameters of calls from Iceland and Norway were relatively similar but no call type matches were confirmed between Iceland and Norway or Shetland and Norway. Three call types matched between Iceland and Shetland. Therefore, these findings agree with what is currently known of the movement patterns of these whales but argue against past contact between Icelandic and Norwegian killer whales, since call repertoires are thought to be maintained over time.

About the presenter:
Anna Selbmann is currently a PhD student at the University of Iceland investigating killer whale acoustic behaviour and interspecific interactions between pilot whales and killer whales. She gained a BSc in Marine Vertebrate Zoology from Bangor University (UK) in 2015 and completed her Masters of Biology at the University of Iceland in 2019 investigating the call repertoire of Icelandic killer whales and comparing it to the repertoire of Norwegian killer whales.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select  presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUc78IynQlubS2DVS1VZoplf_t42-yZOO

SMM Quarterly Newsletter: July-September 2021

The Society for Marine Mammalogy















Editor’s Select Series Seminar: Echolocation behaviour of fish-eating killer whales during pursuit and capture of salmon prey

The SMM Seminar Editor’s Select Series highlights the latest and most exciting marine mammal science published in the Marine Mammal Science Journal. The SMM created this series to give scientists and citizens around the world a chance to engage with marine mammal scientists, learn and ask questions. All are welcome.


Guest, Brianna Wright of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) presents: “Echolocation behaviour of fish-eating killer whales during pursuit and capture of salmon prey

September 23, 2021 4-5:30 pm PDT (11 PM-1230 AM UTC)
Online. Free to attend. 

About this talk:
We used high-resolution acoustic and movement tags (Dtags) to analyse the echolocation behaviour of fish-eating killer whales during pursuit and capture of salmon prey. Whales produced more echolocation trains and had faster clicking rates prior to catching salmon versus afterward, confirming the importance of echolocation in prey detection and tracking. Extremely rapid click sequences (buzzes) occurred in the lead-up to salmon captures at depths typically exceeding 50 m, and were likely used for close-range prey targeting. Distinctive crunching sounds related to prey handling occurred at shallow depths following captures, matching observations that whales surfaced with salmon prior to eating them and often shared their prey.

About the presenter:
Brianna Wright received her B.Sc. majoring in Biology and Anthropology from the University of Victoria in 2007. During her undergrad she also participated in the UVic Biology Co-op program and studied at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. From 2008-2010, she worked as a Technician with the Cetacean Research Program of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) before returning to school and completing her M.Sc. in 2014 at UBC’s Marine Mammal Research Unit under the supervision of Dr. John Ford and Dr. Andrew Trites. Brianna’s thesis investigated the fine-scale foraging behaviour of resident killer whales using suction-cup attached tags that recorded dive depth, body position and acoustic behaviour of individual whales. She returned to work with DFO’s Cetacean Research Program at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo in July 2014, and is currently a marine mammal Biologist with this group. She has participated in killer whale and sea otter census surveys and offshore ship and aerial distance-sampling surveys for cetaceans. Analytically, her recent work has focused on spatial density modelling of survey data for cetacean species to estimate their distribution and abundance. She also conducts assessments of killer whale diet composition and prey sharing behaviour through field collection and analysis of prey remains.

Open access to all Marine Mammal Science papers is available to current SMM members. Open access to this article was made temporarily available to the public between September 20-September 30, 2021.

Missed a presentation or want to share this series with a friend? All previous Editors’ Select  presentations are recorded and archived on our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUc78IynQlubS2DVS1VZoplf_t42-yZOO