Category Archives: President’s Blog

Cast your vote on SMM Board Leadership, 2026 Conference Venues and Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Dear Members,

Our September 2022 ballot is now live on our website. All current members should log in and vote on several important pieces of Society business. This is your time to help select the SMM Leadership for the next several years, determine where the 2026 Biennial conference will take place and whether to make the Ad hoc Diversity and Inclusion Committee a formal standing committee.

The ballot will be open for 3 weeks. We hope that all members will take part in shaping the future of the Society.

Here is the link to the ballot: https://marinemammalscience.org/for-members/september-2022-members-ballot/

The ballot will close at 3:00 PM EST on Thursday, 13 October 2022.

Best wishes,
Emer Rogan
Nominations and Elections Committee Chair

SMM 2026 Conference Location Options

Greetings SMM Members!

We are just past a very successful SMM 2022 in West Palm Beach, USA and in the process for gearing up for SMM 2024 in Perth, Australia.

We must now cast our gaze to 2026 and decide where our community will meet to discuss all things marine mammals. We will decide our 2026 venue in the upcoming SMM ballot, and this page is intended to provide additional information to help inform your vote. Our four proposed venues are San Juan (Puerto Rico), Portland (Oregon, USA), Vancouver and Montréal (Canada).  All four are great destinations with facilities to match, for a great conference. So please check out the information below and then vote for the venue that both entices you and offers up the opportunity for the most inclusive conference for our SMM community. And keep checking back as information will be updated regularly in the coming weeks!

SMM 2026 Biennial Conference San Juan (Puerto Rico) Portland (Oregon, USA) Vancouver (Canada) Montréal (Canada)
Relative Estimated Registration Cost¹ Similar or possibly less than previous conferences Similar or possibly less than previous conferences Similar or possibly more than previous conferences Similar or possibly more than previous conferences
Accommodation Range $USD² $189-249 $152-239 $218-334 $155-171
Average Cost³ Meals Per Day $USD $28 $37 $27 $32
Average flight costs ($USD) from4:

  • LA
  • Dallas
  • Chicago
  • Washington DC
  • London
  • Frankfurt
  • Tokyo
  • Cape Town
  • Sydney
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • Sao Paulo
 

 

$516

$501

$438

$400

$1,635

$1,380

$2,117

$2,344

$3,045

$1,546

$2,083

$798

 

 

$241

$328

$322

$330

$1,080

$568

$1,444

$1,447

$1,801

$1,535

$1,769

 

$1,622

 

 

$371

$598

$409

$426

$1,184

$701

$1,631

$1,930

$1,631

$811

$1,203

$1,446

 

 

$494

$483

$312

$304

$659

$553

$1,673

$1,314

$2,227

$1,549

$1,866

$1,250

Convention rental and F& B cost5 $243,956 $211,111 $307,148 $261,731
Proposed Conference Dates 2-10 October 4-12, 11-19 December 30 Oct – 7 Nov 4-12 December

 

¹ This estimate is based on projected venue and other conference associated costs (see 5 below) from 2022 conferences.

² Accommodation costs are based on double occupancy rates provided by the hotels that will most likely be supporting the conference venue. These don’t include any hostels, vacation rentals, or other options available to conference participants. Estimates in $USD.

³ These rates are the average of multiple travel sites and based on simple meals and not medium-higher end restaurants so should be considered a MINIMUM likely cost.

4 This was calculated in $USD using Google Flights on September 14, 2022 and searching fares between city pairs for proposed conference months and days and averaging the best 4-8 departing flights per Google.

5 Based on 800 people attending and similar menus to 2022 and average comparable food and beverage pricing

San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital and largest city, sits on the island’s Atlantic coast. Its widest beach fronts the Isla Verde resort strip, known for its bars, nightclubs and casinos. Cobblestoned Old San Juan features colorful Spanish colonial buildings and 16th-century landmarksWith modern conference facilities a turquoise ocean, rainforests to hike, explore and zip­line, it offers many choices for the potential conference attendee. No passports required for U.S. citizens.

 

Portland (Oregon, USA)

Portland, Oregon’s largest city, sits on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, in the shadow of snow-capped Mount Hood. It’s known for its parks, bridges and bicycle paths, as well as for its eco-friendliness and its microbreweries and coffeehouses. The convention center has a focus on sustainability (platinum rating in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification program) and had been recently renovated.

Vancouver (Canada)

Vancouver is a west coast seaport in British Columbia, is among Canada’s densest, most ethnically diverse cities. A popular filming location, it’s surrounded by mountains, and also has thriving art, theatre and music scenes. Vancouver Art Gallery is known for its works by regional artists, while the Museum of Anthropology houses preeminent First Nations collections. The award-winning Vancouver Convention Centre is located on Vancouver’s waterfront with a dramatic mountain backdrop, and convenient access to all the major visitor amenities in the downtown core.

Montréal (Canada)

Montréal is the largest city in Canada’s Québec province. It’s set on an island in the Saint Lawrence River and named after Mt. Royal, the triple-peaked hill at its heart. Its boroughs, many of which were once independent cities, include neighbourhoods ranging from cobblestoned, French colonial Vieux-Montréal – with the Gothic Revival Notre-Dame Basilica at its centre – to bohemian Plateau. The Montréal Convention Centre (Palais des congrès de Montréal) is located in the heart of a city known for its energy, joie de vivre and forward-thinking spirit. The Palais is described as a carbon-neutral architectural masterpiece that houses multipurpose facilities suitable for events of all sizes.

 

Experiences of Women in Marine Mammal Science webinar available on YouTube

The recording of the July 19, 2022 webinar on the Experiences of Women in Marine Mammal Science is now available for viewing on the Society for Marine Mammalogy YouTube channel. Please send any questions or comments to the SMM ad hoc Diversity and Inclusion Committee at diversity@marinemammalscience.org or WIMMS at:

Email: womeninmmsci@gmail.com
Website: https://wimms.weebly.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/womeninmmsci/
Twitter: @womeninmmsci
Hashtag: #womeninmmsci

The Passing of Dr. William “Bill” Perrin

Earlier this month the marine mammal scientific community said goodbye to Dr. Bill Perrin.  For many of us on the SMM Board, past and present, Bill was a valued friend and colleague who gave so much to the Society.  His contributions to the SMM were many and only outdone by his scientific contributions to the broader marine mammal field.  The team at NMFS’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center wrote a beautiful remembrance for him.  Rather than recreate it, we thought it best to share it here.

Thank you to Bill for everything he gave to the SMM.  It was an honor to serve with him.

The SMM Board of Governors

Remembering Bill Perrin

It is with deep sadness that we report the passing of Dr. William F. Perrin on July 11, 2022 at the age of 83.

Starting in the late 1960’s, as a student of Ken Norris and Carl Hubbs, Bill began conducting what would become critical early research on dolphins killed in the eastern Tropical Pacific tuna purse-seine fishery. His work highlighted the growing problems in this fishery, which in turn was influential issues leading to the enactment of the US Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Additionally, the rigor and scope of his pioneering work on the taxonomy, life history, population ecology, and behavior of these species has raised the bar for all future studies. Bill can truly be considered the father of modern marine mammal taxonomy.

It is impossible to accurately convey the ways Bill has instrumentally changed and guided the field of marine mammal science. He has served as a president of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, chair of the SMM International Relations Committee, and founder of the SMM Taxonomy Committee. He has been an editor of Marine Mammal Science, associate editor of the Journal Mammalogy, editor of the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals along with Bernd Würsig and Hans Thewissen, and editor of the World Cetacean Database. Over several decades, he has been a leader of critical cetacean conservation work done with many national committees like of Committee of Scientific Advisors, Marine Mammal Commission and international organizations such as the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group and their Red List and the Scientific Committee of the IWC and the Scientific Committee of the CMS. He is also known for his work with numerous regional organizations, particularly his studies and capacity building in southeast Asia and western Africa. He and his wife, Dr. Louella Dolar, extensively studied cetaceans around the Philippines, and lobbied for their continued conservation.

For almost 50 years, Bill had a celebrated career at the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center, where he served as a Senior Scientist for much of that time. He was also an adjunct Professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD and the University of Washington. Bill’s publication record is awe-inspiring. He not only wrote and co-authored hundreds of papers, but also edited many important books and special journal issues.

The students, coworkers, and colleagues around the world who have had the pleasure to be mentored by and work closely with Bill have all enjoyed not only his remarkable and organized mind, but also his passion for the work and unique sense of humor. Those who knew him well understood that his gruff exterior was only a thin cover for a man who was overly generous with his time and resources. He would regularly go out of his way to provide help to aspiring biologists, many of whom would later become friends.  The field of marine mammalogy has lost one of its most influential and important scientists and leaders.

We offer our love and support to his family in these difficult times. We take some comfort in the knowledge that his legacy will live on in all of us whose lives he has touched. We will miss him terribly.

In remembrance of Bill, a memorial service was held for him in San Diego, CA on Sunday, August 7th. A video of Bill Perrin’s memorial is available at https://memoryafilms.com/Perrin/ and includes the short portion of the reception that followed. The film will be available online for one year. 

Eric Archer, Lisa Ballance, Bob Brownell, Jr., Tom Jefferson, Sarah Mesnick

2022-2023 Small Grants in Aid of Research Program Now Accepting Applications

The Society for Marine Mammalogy would like to inform eligible members (see below) that this year’s Small Grants in Aid of Research application window is now open. Applications will be accepted during the entire month of June. The Committee of Scientific Advisors will review applications and make recommendations on funding with decisions announced in early September 2022. The awards are up to US $2,000. Up to 25% of the budget may be used as stipend. All three of the following eligibility requirements must be met:

1. Be a member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy.

2. Be a national of any country not on this Excluded Country List: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States.

Preference is given to early career researchers such as students and researchers with less than 5 years post-doctoral experience.

3. Be conducting research in a country not on the above Excluded Country List.

The Small Grant web page provides full information, links to past successful applications, a list of recipients from prior years and their completed project reports, and a link to the application itself. Please be mindful of the word limits in the various sections of the application.

Last year 18 of 42 applicants from 12 counties received funding.

For technical questions regarding the online application, please email the Society webmaster at admin@marinemammalscience.org

For all other questions about the grants, please contact:

Laura J. May-Collado
Chair
Committee of Scientific Advisors
Society for Marine Mammalogy
science@marinemammalscience.org

Last chance to vote on proposed SMM bylaws, constitution and membership structure changes

Dear Members,

This is your final reminder to vote on several important pieces of Society business. There are many changes to our governing documents, including term limits, changing membership types, approving a stipend for our journal editor and more. It is also time to vote for or against a change in our membership dues structure and rates. We have been discussing this as a community since December but for a refresher, you can read about these changes in this news item on our website. The ballot will be open for 1 more week. We hope that all members will take part in shaping the future of the Society.

Here is the link to the ballot: https://www.marinemammalscience.org/for-members/2022-members-ballot/

The ballot will close at 3:00 PM EST on Monday, 11 April 2022.

Best wishes,
Emer Rogan
Nominations and Elections Committee Chair

Vote on proposed SMM bylaws, constitution and membership structure changes

Dear Members,

Our 2022 ballot is now live on our website. All current members should log in and vote on several important pieces of Society business. There are many changes to our governing documents, including term limits, changing membership types, approving a stipend for our journal editor and more. It is also time to vote for or against a change in our membership dues structure and rates. We have been discussing this as a community since December but for a refresher, you can read about these changes in this news item on our website. The ballot will be open for 4 weeks. We hope that all members will take part in shaping the future of the Society.

Here is the link to the ballot: https://www.marinemammalscience.org/for-members/2022-members-ballot/

The ballot will close at 3:00 PM EST on Monday, 11 April 2022.

Best wishes,
Emer Rogan
Nominations and Elections Committee Chair

The Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM) announces six conservation awards totaling $140K!

The Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM) announces six conservation awards totaling $140K!

Over the past several years the SMM has raised money for a newly created Conservation Fund. The purpose of this endowment fund is to support research and education projects worldwide that can help catalyze real conservation action to save the world’s most endangered marine mammals.

Conservation proposals were solicited from the SMM Members in July 2021 for the first round of awards. Each of the 41 submitted proposals were judged by at least three members of the SMM Conservation Committee or Committee of Scientific Advisors. Scores were tallied and normalized to adjust for individual differences among judges.  Initially, we expected to fund only two proposals (for a maximum of $25,000 each) from the Conservation Fund endowment.  However, that would have left many outstanding proposals unfunded.  Last-minute fund-raising provide an additional $90,000, allowing us to fund the top six proposals. The funded proposals include two in South America, one in Africa, and three in southern Asia. Research will occur in 12 countries, including Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Liberia, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Senegal. A brief summary of each project is given below.

“This is the culmination of years of effort, and it is rewarding to see such a fine collection of projects for our inaugural year” says SMM Conservation Fund coordinator, Jay Barlow. He adds, “However, the quality of the remaining unfunded projects shows how great the need is and how many people are willing to help save the world’s marine mammal species.  We need to raise more funds so that we can do more.”

Project Summaries:

Title: Harnessing local ecological knowledge to fill data gaps and support conservation of the Critically Endangered Atlantic humpback dolphin (Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Liberia, Senegal & Gambia). 

PIs: Aristide Kamla Takoukan (& team)

Summary:  This project will use interview-based survey campaigns in Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Liberia, The Gambia and Senegal to gain local ecological knowledge about the distribution, conservation status, and threats to  Critically Endangered Atlantic humpback dolphins.

Find out more at:
African Marine Mammal Conservation Organization (AMMCO): https://www.ammco.org/  and https://www.facebook.com/ammco.org/  and https://twitter.com/AMMCO_SIREN

Consortium for the Conservation of the Atlantic Humpback Dolphin (CCAHD): https://www.sousateuszii.org/   and https://www.facebook.com/sousateuszii  and  https://twitter.com/sousateuszii

Title:  How many Amazon river dolphin species are there? “Capturing” genomic and morphological evidence to clarify the Inia’s taxonomy to help their conservation (Colombia, Brazil & Bolivia).

PIs: Susana Caballero Gaitan & Larissa Oliveira

Summary:  Obtain morphological and genomic (“museomics”) information, using mostly specimens from Museums around the world to understand and clarity the controversial taxonomy of the Inia genus.

Title: Developing a necropsy program to determine the efficacy of reducing Mekong River dolphin mortality with a River Guard enforcement and outreach program (Cambodia)

PIs: Somay Phay, Eam Sam Un, Francis Gulland.

Summary: This project aims to determine the causes of Mekong River dolphin mortality, and to assess the efficacy of an established River Guard program to reduce deaths of these animals.

Find out more: http://www.wwf.org.kh

Title: An integrated approach to the conservation of coastal cetaceans in the Gulf of Mottama, Myanmar

PIs: Wint Hte, Yin Yin Htay, and Tara Whitty.

Summary: The project will establish an acoustic monitoring program for N. phocaenoides, estimate bycatch rates in small-scale fisheries through Rapid Bycatch Assessments, refine understanding of the current and past distribution of these species in the Gulf of Mottama through Local Ecological Knowledge surveys, and train community youths in research and community engagement skills.

Find out more: https://www.facebook.com/MyanmarCoastalConservationLab/

Title: Veterinary capacity building to fill vital knowledge gaps for the endangered Indus River dolphins (Platanista minor) rescued from irrigation canals (Pakistan).

PIs: Forrest Gomez, Cynthia Smith, Massod Arshad, Gill Braulik, and Uzma Khan.

Summary: The entrapment of Indus River dolphins in irrigation canals in Pakistan is an imminent threat to this endangered species. While rescue operations occur, there is a critical need for veterinary monitoring and assessment to provide the animals a better chance of survival. There is also an urgent need to collect scientific data to help protect and conserve the species. The SMM Conservation Fund will allow our international, collaborative team to build local capacity by training Pakistani veterinary first responders. We will also collect essential scientific and health data to fill critical species-specific knowledge gaps. Thank you to the SMM for supporting this important work.

Find out more:

https://www.wwfpak.org/our_work_/wildlife_2/indus_dolphin/

https://www.nmmf.org/marine-mammal/south-asian-river-dolphin/

Instagram: @nmmfoundation, @wwfpak, @cynthia_smith_dvm, @forrestgomez

Facebook: @nmmf.org, @WWFPak, @forrest.emorygomez

Title: Counting to protect: population estimation of a highly threatened subpopulation of river dolphin (genus Inia) in the Tocantins, the most impacted river by dams and land use changes in Brazil

PI: Miriam Marmontel

Summary:  Conduct survey to estimate the abundance of Araguaian boto along the Tocantins River, where segmentation by seven hydroelectric dams and rapid changes in land use is heavily impacting this dolphin population.

Recording of February 2, 2022 Inter-Conference Members’ Meeting

Aloha Everyone.

Thanks to all of our members that were able to join us for the live portion of the member’s meeting.  For those of you that were unable to make it you can know watch the meeting on demand at the link below.  The topics on the agenda were the following:

Welcome and 2021 Year in Review
Budget Update
Conservation Fund Awards Announcement
Update from the Editor
Update from D&I
2022 Conference Updates
Changes to Governing Documents and Dues
Announcement of the Norris Award Winner
SMM Board Plans for 2022
Open Floor for Discussion

If you have any questions or business you want to recommend for the Board you can post it in the comments below or send it to the President, appropriate officer or committee chair.

 

Members’ Meeting Reminder: February 2, 2022 at 18:00 GMT

Aloha SMM Members-

This is a reminder that we will be hosting our Members’ Meeting online next week. We will give an update on our budget, explain some changes to our governing documents that will be on the March ballot, announce the winners for our inaugural Conservation Fund grants, and more.  We will also share some of our priorities for the coming year and get your input on where the SMM Board and Committees would focus their effort.  This will be a great opportunity to learn how you can get involved in shaping our Society.

Date:  February 2nd
Time:  18:00 GMT

Please register by following this link.

If you are unable to attend due to scheduling conflict or timezone issues you can watch the replay within 24 hrs.  Please share any questions or comments to president@marinemammalscience.org

Looking forward to seeing many of you online.

Cheers,
Charles