Category Archives: Conservation

Editors’ Select Panel on July 15, 2021: Reintroductions have saved the sea otter throughout North America: why should we care?

We are pleased to announce the next edition of the 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.

Guest, Shawn Larson of Seattle Aquarium presents: “Reintroductions have saved the sea otter throughout North America: why should we care?”

July 15, 2021 5 PM PDT (12 AM UTC)

About this talk:

Sea otters were once abundant throughout the nearshore of the North Pacific. The maritime fur trade left few remnant populations with low genetic diversity. Subsequent reintroductions of otters resulted in several new populations in North America. We sampled sea otters genetically from Bering Island to California to evaluate genetic diversity, population structure and geneflow. Genetic diversity was the highest in reintroduced populations, population structure was greatest between California and all other groups, and geneflow was evident between all populations except for those at the ends of the range. The reintroductions are arguably the greatest success in sea otter conservation.

Dr. Larson shared details about this work during this 1-hour presentation followed by a Q&A session. All are welcome to participate.

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 between July 8–July 31, 2021.

About the presenter:
Shawn Larson, PhD, She/Her pronouns, is Curator of Conservation Research at the Seattle Aquarium. Shawn has been working at the Seattle Aquarium since 1995. Her main duties are leading the rehabilitation program, the water quality/research lab and the conservation research program which includes 10 long term ecological monitoring projects on sea otters, Salish Sea whales, sharks, temperate water rocky reefs, Hawaiian coral reefs, and microplastics. She has been studying marine mammal physiology, genetics, population biology and ecology for 27 years and has published several scientific papers and chapters on marine mammals and was lead editor on a 2015 book published by Elsevier titled Sea Otter Conservation.

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:

SMM Conservation Fund Now Accepting Proposals

The Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM) is now accepting proposals for projects under its new Conservation Fund. Proposals for up to US$25K can be submitted between now and 31 July 2021. Proposals should be focused on projects that can catalyze real conservation action for the world’s most endangered marine mammal species. Details on the application process can be found here. Proposals will be judged by the SMM Conservation Committee and Committee of Scientific Advisors and awards will be announced at the SMM member’s meeting at the Marine Mammal Conference in December.

Dr. Danielle Kreb On Winning the SMM Conservation Merit Prize

Thank you for submitting your inspiring nominations for the 2021 SMM Conservation Merit Prize winner. The Conservation Committee is now reviewing all nominations. 

Meanwhile, here is a video from the 2019 SMM Conservation Merit Prize winner, Dr. Danielle Kreb, discussing how much receiving the prize has meant to her work and giving us a peek into her impactful conservation efforts in Indonesia. 

Brazilian Marine Mammalogist, Pedro Fruet, Awarded Whitley Award

This year, the Whitley Award was granted to six researchers and conservationists in the Southern Hemisphere, among them Pedro Fruet, a Brazilian marine mammalogist who has been studying the Lahille’s bottlenose dolphin since 2000. Pedro completed his graduate studies (MSc and PhD – the latter in cotutele with Flinders University, Australia) in the Biological Oceanography Graduate Program at the Federal University of Rio Grande-FURG, in southern Brazil. As a graduate student and pos-doctoral fellow at FURG, Pedro and colleagues increased considerably the understanding of the ecology and conservation needs of this subspecies of bottlenose dolphins, including taxonomy, population genetics, population structure, estimation of population-specific parameters, and viability analysis. This achievement is a result of the long-standing partnership between Kaosa (an NGO funded by Pedro and colleagues in 2007), the Oceanographic Museum “Prof. Eliezer C. Rios” and the Ecology and Conservation of Marine Megafauna Laboratory (Ecomega) at FURG, with the continued financial support of Yaqu Pacha, a German NGO focused on the conservation of Aquatic Mammals in South America. The project under the scope of the Whitley Award aims to reduce bycatch in fishing gear, raise awareness about this subspecies and strengthen the community’s connection to their marine environment.

SMM Conservation Fund to Open for Submissions on July 1, 2021

The Society for Marine Mammalogy is pleased to inform our membership that the inaugural SMM Conservation Fund application window will open on 1 July 2021. Awards may be for up to US $25,000, and a total of US $50,000 is available during this preliminary call for submissions.

Applications will be accepted during the entire month of July. The Committee of Scientific Advisors and the Conservation Committee will review applications and will announce the recipients at the Biennial Conference in December 2021.

Full eligibility requirements and application instructions are available here.

For all questions about the fund and application process, please contact:

Jay Barlow
SMM Conservation Fund Coordinator
Society for Marine Mammalogy

SMM Conservation Merit Prize Is Accepting Nominations through June 15, 2021

The SMM Conservation Committee awards a special Conservation Merit Prize at the Biennial Conference. The Conservation Merit Prize is public recognition given to a person, team, or organization contributing toward solving a pressing conservation problem for marine mammals, either ongoing or resulting in a conservation success.

Previous recipients: include

2019: Dr. Danielle Kreb for her over 20 years of conservation efforts on behalf of the critically endangered Mahakam River population of Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, and for her engagement of local communities in that critical work.

2017: Dr. Alexandros Karamanlidis for his team’s work in preventing the extinction of the Mediterranean monk seal.

2015: Mexican officials including President Enrique Peña Nieto, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Rafael Pacchiano, top Mexican biologists, economists and fishermen for their work to save the critically endangered vaquita.

About eligibility, nominations and the review process:
The Prize includes travel to the award presentation at the Biennial Conference, including two night’s lodging. Any active SMM member may propose recipients. The Prize is only given when the Conservation Committee finds a case of exceptional merit and may not be awarded at every biennial. Choice of the person or team will be by the Conservation Committee and approved by the Board.

To nominate a person or group for this prize, please send a one-paragraph description including the name of the nominated individual or group and their qualifications (self nominations welcome) to:

The Conservation Committee will select a short list of nominees and follow up with nominators to request the completion of a more comprehensive application after the submission deadline of June 15, 2021.

SMM Editor’s Select Series: “What Does It Take to Power a Walrus?” with Dr. David Rosen

We are pleased to announce this 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.

Dr. David Rosen of the University of British Columbia presents: “What Does It Take To Power A Walrus? Predicting the Effect of Climate Change on Food Requirements of an Iconic Arctic Species.”
April 15, 2021 5 PM Pacific Time (1 AM UTC)

About this talk:
Climate change is rapidly altering the Arctic ecosystem, including dramatic decreases in the extent of summer ice. Scientists are trying to predict the effect of these environmental transformations on wildlife. This includes the Walrus, an iconic, ice-dependent species that relies on stable ice surfaces to rest and act as a base for foraging on nearby food beds. Mathematical bioenergetic models are a typical tool that scientists use to predict the food energy requirements of animals under different conditions, and several such models have been constructed for walruses. However, these models are only as accurate as the data that goes into them. This talk will describe several studies that measured the costs of resting in water and swimming in two juvenile walruses on loan to the Vancouver Aquarium. I will describe what it was like to work with these boisterous, large animals on a daily basis, the scientific challenges and opportunities they provided, and what the resulting data tells scientists about the costs of global warming on these animals. Open access to this and all Marine Mammal Science papers are available to current SMM members and will be made temporarily available to public between 15-22 April 2021.

About the presenter:
Dr. David Rosen is Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia. His current research primarily investigates the bioenergetics (energy requirements and expenditures) of marine mammals. Its focus is to understand the root causes of population changes by investigating the interactions between the physiology of individual animals and biotic and abiotic environmental changes. The work directly contributes to the conservation and management of marine resources, particularly those in Arctic region, where environmental change – including climate change and fisheries impacts – is most evident.