Category Archives: Society News

SMM Strategic Planning

Aloha SMM Members-

The Society for Marine Mammalogy began its journey some five decades ago. Our first focus was bringing marine mammal professionals together on a regular basis to share our science- thus our biennial conferences were born. Following that publication of Marine Mammal Science, our flagship science product, was started to disseminate our science to the world. Over the years, our membership has grown as has the number of services we provide. These include small grants in aid of research, student and international researcher travel support, a variety of awards, presidential letters on conservation issues, ethics reviews on research, podcasts, and much more. All of these with the intent to improve the science and conservation we do, promote the exchange of ideas, and build a more global and inclusive membership.

The need for a strategic plan

This evolution has largely been organic and done one piece at a time. The SMM is now older and larger and we are facing a number of challenges, needs and opportunities that stand between us and being of greater value to our members and the animals that bring us all together. Many of these opportunities to improve or provide more support to our members require financial investment  of our relatively limited resources. So, we must be strategic and prioritize the most important actions moving forward. To do this we are going to tackle our first ever strategic plan. Some of you might not be familiar with what strategic plans look like. Here are examples from other scientific societies such as the Society for Conservation Biology or Ecological Society of America. Our ambitious plan will be to have a final draft of the strategic plan ready for membership vote for our April ballot.

Get involved

We want to include the membership in multiple steps of this strategic planning process. This has to be OUR plan so please help to shape it. Please share your ideas for goals and actions that the Society should undertake. Goals and actions are defined as:

Goal: This is generally a higher level objective that would have several more specific actions nested underneath.  While it should be broad it must be concrete and achievable.

        Example: Increase the accessibility of our Society and Science.

Action:  This is a very specific and measurable activity that helps to achieve the goal it is intended to support.

       Example:  Move all or part of the biennial conferences into a digital format to allow for greater participation globally.

We would like to capture a long list of ideas from the membership to help us find common themes and actions. You can submit your ideas in the comments below or by email. This page will always remain open for submission but we would like to encourage people to share their ideas by September 14, 2020.  

The second way to participate is to volunteer to help with the strategic planning team.  Once we have settled on some priority goals we will be identifying actions, measures of success, and timelines.  Many hands make light work and this is a great opportunity to help shape the future of the SMM.  For everyone that has been asking how to get involved, well here is your chance.  If you are interested in participating send me an email with a short description of your particular interests.  We may not be able to accommodate everyone depending on the level of response.

Thank you in advance for your contributions.  If you have any questions please comment below or email me.

Be safe, be well.

Charles

Twitter: @himonkseal

Update on the Society’s Virtual Conversation on Unpaid Internships

Aloha Everyone-

Just wanted to post a short update to let you know that the planning is still going on for the our digital meeting to continue the conversation on unpaid internships.  My original hope was to have it happen in August but we have passed that deadline. We have pulled together most of the panel who will cover several perspectives and now just finalizing details and timing.  The Board and our various committees have also been very busy reviewing and identifying updates for several of our policies.  We will be sharing those updates very soon.

I thank all of you that continue to discuss this and other challenging topics and our SMM board and committees who are approaching this so thoughtfully.

 

As always feel free to comment below or reach out to me with questions and comments.

Be safe, be well.

Charles

president@marinemammalscience.org

Twitter: @himonkseal

Inaugural Call for Nominations of Fellow Members

Inaugural Call for Nominations of Fellow Members

In 2019, the members of the Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM) voted to establish a Fellows membership category. From our Constitution, a Fellow is a member who is being recognized by the Society and its membership as having “rendered conspicuous service or made truly notable contributions to the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of marine mammal science or the fostering of its practical applications through conservation of marine mammals. Payment of dues to the Society by the Fellow would remain the same as for a normal Full member.”

We are pleased to announce our Society’s Inaugural call for nominations of Fellow Members.

ELIGIBILITY

A nomination for advancement to Fellow is appropriate for any current Full member of the SMM after that individual has been a Full member for a minimum of five years. These years do not have to be contiguous. Please confirm with the nominee that they meet the five-year eligibility criterion prior to submission. Note that current members of the SMM Board (which includes elected officers and committee chairs) are not eligible for consideration for Fellows status.

HOW TO NOMINATE

If you are a current SMM member, you may nominate an eligible SMM member as a Fellow. We ask that you submit a complete dossier, described in detail below, to the Fellows Nomination web page by 18 November 2020. The dossier must be uploaded to the Fellows Nomination web page as a single .pdf document.

Each dossier shall include the following elements.

(1) Letter of Nomination. This letter should provide insight into a nominee’s conspicuous service, notable contributions to the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of marine mammal science, or the fostering of its practical applications through the conservation of marine mammals. The nominating letter can be no longer than one page (12 pt font).

The Committee will consider the following factors: (1) service to the Society; (2) contributions to marine mammal science including activities such as publications and presentations, field work, research and development, or administrative and logistical support; or (3) contributions to the teaching or dissemination of knowledge of marine mammal science and conservation. Due to the diversity of disciplines and activities of The Society for Marine Mammalogy members, the relative importance of these factors will differ from candidate to candidate. The Fellow candidate would be expected to be exemplary in, and have made substantial contributions to, at least one of these factors (e.g. be in the top 10% of the membership).

(2) Seconding letters. The dossier should also include two seconding letters, one of which must be from a current SMM member. Signed-in SMM members can search for all current members via the SMM Member Directory. Each seconding letter can be no longer than one page (12 pt font).

(3) Complete curriculum vitae of the nominee. The format and length of this document is unrestricted, as we are encouraging nominations of individuals from broadly different backgrounds and the standard CV formats across fields are likely different. Note that only text should be submitted as part of the CV. If audio or video files are relevant provide a link in the documents submitted.

(4) Proposed maximum 20-word citation for the Fellow (e.g., Kenneth S. Norris – for efforts to found the Society and contributions to the process of dolphin echolocation and hearing).

DOSSIER REVIEW PROCESS

The dossiers will be received by the committee Co-chairs, the SMM Members-at-Large. Identifying information about the nominator and seconders will be redacted from each dossier to ensure a blind review. During this inaugural Fellows nomination process, the review committee will be formed by the entire SMM Board. Future Fellows Committees will be Co-Chaired by the Members-at-Large, who will form a committee of seven members holding Fellow status, and at least one contributing, but not voting student member, with attention paid to diversity of representation. Members will serve staggered, four-year terms. Fellows Committee members may not submit nominations. For more information about the Fellows Committee, please see the General Operating Policies of our SMM governing documents.

QUESTIONS

If you have any questions about the nomination process, please reach out to the Co-Chairs of the Fellows Committee, our Members-at-Large:

Cecile Vincent and Cindy Peter (fellows@marinemammalscience.org)

For any technical questions regarding the online application, please email admin@marinemammalscience.org.

Update Regarding Petition Related to Unpaid Internships

I wanted to put out a quick update on behalf of the Society for Marine Mammalogy Board regarding the petition related to unpaid internships and the subsequent discussion on MARMAM and beyond.  

It is encouraging to see ongoing dialogue and the evolution of various positions as more voices and perspectives engage on the issue. At the core we all agree that our marine mammal community, and science in general, benefits from increased diversity. We all agree that barriers to diversity and inclusiveness, where they exist, should be dismantled. The challenge we face is finding agreement on what the ‘right’ course of action should be and which action should come first. The initial dialog on internships quickly moved to two perspectives: one being that unpaid internships were the barrier that needed addressing, and the other that a focus on underrepresented groups throughout the marine mammal science career pipeline was the necessary action.  Thankfully, the discussion has continued to grow in nuance with greater acknowledgment that the pipeline is broken in many places and each spot needs focused attention. This is an issue of “and” not “or” – it is both unpaid internships AND lack of access in early education (and so much more) that contribute to the struggle to achieve greater diversity in our field.  

The SMM has just received the petition, and it will feed into the Board’s ongoing deliberations on this important and multifarious issue. The Board is reviewing the online discussion and available literature, reaching out to a broader cohort of our community, and looking across other professional societies to see if and how they have addressed similar concerns. After this initial process we will work with our membership to find what action by the SMM is in our purview and could address this issue in a meaningful and responsible way.  

One thing is certain though: one of the most positive actions we can take is to facilitate this dialog further and include our membership to the greatest extent possible. To that end, we will soon host an online forum with a variety of participants and perspectives on this issue. This will be a moderated online discussion that will be archived for future watching.  Our intent is for this to happen in mid-August.

While across our community there may not be 100% agreement on the issues raised in the petition or some of the responses to it, I believe we should thank those who have started the discussion and those who have stepped up to respond. This is how our marine mammal society will grow and advance – by asking hard, and oftentimes uncomfortable questions and taking necessary steps to improve. We best serve our community and the animals we study by being open to these discussions, self reflective about our roles and perspectives, and willing to evolve when necessary.

More information, including ideas for specific actions, will be coming soon. If you have thoughts you would like to share directly with the Board please feel free to email me at president@marinemammalscience.org or contact our Diversity and Inclusion Committee co-chairs at diversity@marinemammalscience.org.

Be safe and well.

Charles

Government of Mozambique chooses to relinquish seismic explorations in core dugong habitat in response to stakeholder input, including SMM Presidential Letter

Good news!

In March 2020, SMM President, D. Ann Pabst signed an SMM Presidential Letter to attract the attention of the Government of Mozambique on the high risks involved in letting the South African SASOL oil giant conduct seismic explorations in core habitat of the last healthy population of dugongs in Africa.

Today South African petroleum giant, SASOL, announced that they have chosen to relinquish Blocks 16 & 19 (the area just to the north of the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park in southern Mozambique) in their entirety to the Government of Mozambique and that the Mozambican authorities have been notified of this decision.

SASOL acknowledged all the comments received during the pre-feasibility phase of the EIA process from scientists, NGOs, tourism operators, fishers, local community members, and international authorities. They said they valued the input provided by these stakeholders.

They stated that they understood and appreciated the environmental sensitivity of the area in question and maintained that sustainability is integral to how SASOL conducts business.

This is encouraging not only for the dugongs – long may they live – but also because it shows that we must never give up.

See the Presidential Letter here:
https://marinemammalscience.org/…/presidential-letter-to-m…/

See Official Press Release here:
https://drive.google.com/…/1GdErAjUy1y9AToOWRUVEXgw2EW…/view

Wiki Species Pages Continue to Improve and Other News from the Education Committee

Wiki student curators continue to be hard at work in drafting and publishing wiki species pages. Here is the current list of active Wiki Species Pages (18 species).

We continue to seek new student curators for the Wiki Species Pages. So, if you are interested and have some unexpected free time due to COVID-19, consider signing up by emailing Dr. Mridula Srinivasan mridula.srinivasan@noaa.gov.

Andrews’ beaked whale, Mesoplodon bowdoini DD Mackenzie Griffin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrews%27_beaked_whale
Antarctic fur seal, Arctocephalus gazella LC Giulia Roncon https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctic_fur_seal
Beluga, Delphinapterus leucas NT (Cook Inlet Subpopulation CR) Alexander Mildener https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beluga_whale
Blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus EN (ssp. musculus – northern blue whale NE, ssp. brevicauda – pygmy blue whale DD, ssp. intermedia – southern blue whale CR, ssp. indica – great Indian blue whale NE, unnamed subspecies – Chilean blue whale NE) Angela Szesciorka https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_whale
Dall’s porpoise, Phocoenoides dalli LC (ssp. dalli – Dalli-type Dall’s porpoise NE, ssp. truei – Truei-type Dall’s porpoise NE) Kimberly Nielsen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dall%27s_porpoise
Galápagos fur seal, Arctocephalus galapagoensis EN Sakile Johnson https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gal%C3%A1pagos_fur_seal
Hourglass dolphin, Lagenorhynchus cruciger LC Simeon Abidari https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hourglass_dolphin
Hubbs’ beaked whale, Mesoplodon carlhubbsi DD Mackenzie Griffin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubbs%27_beaked_whale
Melon-headed whale, Peponocephala electra LC Vicki Hamilton https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melon-headed_whale
Narwhal, Monodon monoceros NT Liza Tsitrin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narwhal
Arnoux’s beaked whale, Berardius arnuxii DD Maureen Spiessl https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_bottlenose_whale
Northern right whale dolphin, Lissodelphis borealis LC Jenny Bachmann https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_right_whale_dolphin
Perrin’s beaked whale, Mesoplodon perrini DD Tiffany Stoeckig https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perrin%27s_beaked_whale
Short-finned pilot whale, Globicephala macrorhynchus DD Liza Tsitrin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short-finned_pilot_whale
Southern bottlenose whale, Hyperoodon planifrons LC Savannah Geiger https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_bottlenose_whale
Southern right whale dolphin, Lissodelphis peronii DD Mieke Weyn https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_right_whale_dolphin
Strap-toothed whale, Mesoplodon layardii DD Texa Sim https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strap-toothed_whale
Vaquita, Phocoena sinus CR Kimberly Nielsen https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaquita
Weddell seal, Leptonychotes weddellii LC Giulia Roncon https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weddell_seal

 

New SMM Education Web Pages Coming Soon
We are currently in the process of publishing a brand new student career page with information on pursuing a career in marine mammal science, scientists interviews in different languages, educational resources, a dedicated Wiki Species Page, and other useful links. Stay tuned.

Open Team Member Positions in the Education Committee
The Education Committee is still looking for diverse and qualified applicants to add to the team. If you are interested in being part of the Education Committee, please send your CV and a brief statement (two paragraphs) on why you are interested in joining the committee and how you can best contribute to advancing its goals of making marine mammal science accessible and rewarding to students, scientists, and enthusiasts, especially underrepresented groups, to admin@marinemammalscience.org.

Marine Mammal Science Podcast

The Marine Mammal Science podcast has been going from strength to strength. The podcast has been a top 3 nature podcast in 39 countries, reaching the number 1 nature podcast position in 28 counties, including*: 

Argentina1, Australia1, Brazil1, Canada2, Chile1, Colombia1, Costa Rica1, Denmark1, Ecuador1, Estonia1, Finland1, Germany2, Hong Kong1, Iceland3, India1, Italy1, Ireland2, Japan2, Kenya1, Lithuania1, Mexico1, Namibia1, the Netherlands1, New Zealand3, Norway2, the Phillipines1, Poland2, Portugal1, Russia1, Singapore1, South Africa1, Spain2, Sri Lanka2, Sweden1, Switzerland1, Taiwan1, Turkey1, the United Kingdom1 and the United States of America2.

In total, it’s been a top 10 nature podcast in 42 countries (including the above plus Belgium8, France4 and Indonesia4).

* The super-script number refers to the position reached in the nature podcast charts.

Episodes can be downloaded from:

Apple podcasts, Spotify, Podtail, Acast, Player FM, Charitable, Podparadise, Listen notes, Podtoopen, Deezer, Podbean and many more podcast providers.

Episodes so far:

Episode 1 – Endangered blue whales in Sri Lanka – with Dr Asha De Vos.

Episode 2 –“Parachute science” and the difficulties faced by marine mammal researchers from developing countries – with Dr Asha De Vos.

Episode 3 – Using drones for marine mammal research – with Shah Selbe

Episode 4 –  The taxonomy of the short-beaked dolphins of the genus Lagenorhynchus – with Dr Nicole Vollmer.

Episode 5 –  Humpback whales in New York harbor  (which was one of the most downloaded and shared papers in the journal Marine Mammal Science) – with Danielle Brown.

Episode 6 – The “hump” of the humpback dolphin (Sousa plumbea), and the threatened dolphins of the genus Sousa – with Dr Stephanie Plön.

Episode 7 – The Society for Marine Mammalogy Conservation Committee, the critically endangered Vaquita, and the newly identified Gulf of Mexico whale – with Dr Barb Taylor. 

Episode 8 – Identifying dolphins from their faces (which was one of the most downloaded and shared papers in the journal Marine Mammal Science) – with Tilen Genov

Episode 9 –The threats faced by Indus and Ganges river dolphins – with Dr Gill Braulik.

Episode 10 –The critically endangered vaquita – with Dr Lorenzo Rojas Bracho

Episode 11 – The behavior of bottlenose and Atlantic spotted dolphins in the Bahamas, and what’s it like conducting field work in paradise-like surroundings – with Dr Denise Herzing.

Episode 12 – Dolphin intelligence and their sophisticated language skills, the nature of humpback whale song, the Hawaiian Islands whale sanctuary, the impacts of climate change … and Star Trek – with Dr Adam Pack.

Episode 13 – Determining whale stress levels by looking at their ear wax, the impacts of World War 2 on cetaceans, and using Twitter and storytelling to help communicate marine mammal science – with Dr Dani Crain.

Episode 14 –  New technology being developed to detect cetaceans at sea – with Dave Steckler

Episode 15 – Ganges river dolphins in Bangladesh and transforming from a research biologist to a science communicator and documentary film maker – with  Dr Jennifer Lewis. 

Episode 16 – Research on dugongs, dolphins and whales in Malaysia – Dr Louisa Ponnampalam.

Episode 17 – The trials and tribulations of life in the field and whales & dolphins in New York harbor – with Eric Angel Ramos.

Episode 18 – Satellite tagging whales – with Dr Daniel Palacios.

Episode 19 – The impacts of whale-watching in Juneau, Alaska, and the “Whale SENSE” program (for more information go to www.whalesense.org)- with Alicia Schuler

 Episode 20 – Cetacean conservation in the Indian Ocean – with Umair Shahid 

Episode 21 – Drs Chris Parsons & Adam Pack introduce the winners of the 2019 Louis M. Herman Research Scholarships: Rebecca Hamilton for her project entitled ‘Cognition in the wild: Dolphin communication during a role-specialized foraging tactic’ and Solène Derville for her project entitled, ‘Whales of the deep: Analyzing movement and diving of humpback whales to understand oceanic breeding congregations in New Caledonia’. Chris also chats to the Herman family about the life of Louis Herman, his legacy and their aims for this new award. For more information about the scholarship go to: https://www.marinemammalscience.org/jobs-grants/awards-and-scholarships/louis-m-herman-research-scholarship/

 Episode 22 – Underwater sound and marine mammals in the Arctic, and the impacts of climate change and human-produced noise on this unique ecosystem – Dr Kate Stafford

Episode 23 – The Amazon river dolphin, the threats it faces, and the dramatic changes in the Amazon ecosystem – Dr Fernando Trujillo

Episode 24 – Humpback whales in Oman and hump-back dolphins in the Congo – with Tim Collins

Episode 25 –  Threats to west African manatees, the problems that are being caused by climate change, the growing wild meat trade and the need for protected areas for marine mammals in Nigeria – with Professor Edem Eniang

Episode 26 – North Atlantic right whale conservation, threatened dolphins on the US Gulf (of Mexico) Coast and issues impacting seals and sealions in the US – with Sharon Young

Episode 27 – Humpback whales, whaling, and whale-watching – with Dr Phil Clapham

Episode 28 – Illegal Soviet whaling and marine mammal science in Russia – with Dr Yulia Ivashchenko

Episode 29 – Whale and dolphin strandings and welfare science – with Dr Karen Stockin

Episode 30 – The impacts of naval exercises on beaked whales in the Marianas Islands – with Dr Anne Simonis

Episode 31 – “Things that are thrown at it in life test us, but show us who we really are…”  – Dr Peter Corkeron talks about the trials and tribulations of his marine mammal career

Episode 32 – Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) and marine protection – with Erich Hoyt

 Episode 33 – Marine mammal conservation in the Mediterranean – with Dr Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara.

Episode 34 – How smart are dolphins? – with Dr Diana Reiss

Episode 35 – Life in the freezer – living and working in Antarctica – with Dr Rob Harcourt  

Episode 36 – African manatee biology & conservation – with Dr Lucy Keith-Diagne of https://africanaquaticconservation.org/

Episode 37 – Marine mammal science and conservation in the US Government – with Steve Leathery

Episode 38 – Hawaiian monk seal conservation – with Dr Michelle Barbieri

 Episode 39 – How the US Marine Mammal Protection Act got passed – with special guest Dr Lee Talbot

Episode 40 – The extinction of Steller’s sea cow – with Dr Lorelei Crerar

Reminder: Small Grants in Aid of Research Deadline is Approaching

The Society for Marine Mammalogy would like to remind eligible members (see below) that this year’s Small Grants in Aid of Research application window will close on 30 June 2020 at 12 PM Eastern Daylight Time. The Committee of Scientific Advisors will review applications and make recommendations on funding with decisions announced in early September. The awards are up to US $2,000. 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, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, 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.

New Board Members, Enhanced Diversity and Inclusion, and the 2023 Conference Venue Highlights 

New Board Members, Enhanced Diversity and Inclusion, and the 2023 Conference Venue Highlights 

The results from the Society of Marine Mammalogy’s 2020 election are in. On this ballot, our members were asked to select new board officers (President-Elect, Treasurer, Secretary, Member-at-Large, and two Student Members-at-Large), approve changes to our governing documents, and choose the host city for the SMM 2023 biennial conference.

Our new President-elect, Simon Goldsworthy, is a scientist at the South Australian Research and Development Institute in Adelaide, focused on mitigating marine mammal interactions with fisheries and aquaculture. Simon will be joining the Board for a four-year term beginning in July 2020 and has previously served as Member-at-Large for the Society. This previous experience will allow him to hit the ground running as President-Elect. Upon receiving the election news he expressed his willingness to do just that, “‘I’m delighted to have been elected and look forward to immediately start working with the Board and help lead the Society over the next four years.”

Tara Cox and Katie Moore will be continuing their Board responsibilities as Secretary and Treasurer, respectively. The ongoing commitment by these two members on tasks vital to the Society not only provide much needed stability to our SMM functionality but their professional interests also bring a greater depth to the Board and the decisions made there. Incoming President, Charles Littnan, applauded their return, “We as a Society are incredibly lucky to have Tara and Katie returning for another term. Their commitment to the SMM is unflagging but they bring so much more. They are strong voices on our Board for critical issues such as animal welfare, diversity and inclusion and conservation and also striving to find how we can best serve our global marine mammal community.”

Cindy Peter was the successful candidate for our Member-at-Large seat. Cindy is the Coordinator of the Sarawak Dolphin Research Project, based at the Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation, University of Malaysia Sarawak, where she is also a Lecturer. Her response to learning of her selection to the Board: “I’m so grateful that the SMM board gave this tiny island researcher all the way in Borneo a chance to run for the election,” speaks to the positive energy she will bring to the committee while pushing for her priorities of “ being a voice for developing country members, especially students, and to promote their inclusion in the society, thus advancing marine mammal science globally”.

Two student Members-at-Large were elected to the SMM Board on this ballot. The first successful candidate was Ayça Eleman who recently started her doctorate program in biology at the University of Iceland studying killer whale foraging ecology and habitat use in Icelandic waters. The other successful candidate was Theresa Tatom-Naecker, a second-year PhD student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) studying the foraging of common bottlenose dolphins. Both our new Student Members-at-Large will be focused on improving the support provided to our student members through a variety of initiatives and engaging students from underrepresented regions.

Acknowledging the Vital Importance of Diversity and Inclusion and the Service of Our Student Members

There were two amendments to the Society’s Constitution that required support by two-thirds of votes cast by the membership. The first amendment was to formally recognize promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in membership, leadership, and readership as one of the SMM’s four principle objectives. The SMM Ad hoc committee on Diversity and Inclusion co-chairs Tara Cox and Eric Archer led the effort to craft this addition to the constitution. The importance of this amendment was emphasized by Eric, “Enshrining this statement in our constitution highlights the SMM’s commitment to ensuring that the field of marine mammal science is open and welcoming to everyone who wishes to participate. The Society will continue to work to identify and actively address barriers experienced by members from all walks of life.”

Our student Members-at-Large (SMaLs) are dedicated to helping the Society’s students, especially in the lead up to and during our biennial conference. Due to the duration and  staggered nature of the terms, the most experienced SMaLs would rotate off just prior to the conference. The newly approved amendment extends SMaL terms another six months, enabling an experienced SMaL to facilitate conference organizing and execution in the following biennial. 

2023 Biennial is Going Down Under

Three delegations offered proposals to host the 25th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Marine Mammals scheduled to occur in 2023. The three locales: Perth, Sanya and Singapore, all offered state-of-the-art conference facilities and rich cultural and scientific experiences. Perth received the most votes from the membership and the Australian host committee is excited to welcome the SMM in three years. “We are honoured and absolutely delighted to host the SMM conference in Perth in 2023. We will work hard to reduce the environmental impact of the conference, and make opportunities to attend as equal as possible by securing funds to support students and delegates from low income countries. As we hope that you will combine your attendance with a holiday, we will aim to provide childcare and a program for older children so that you can enjoy the scientific program while your kids also have a great time. We will introduce you to the Australian way of life and our cultural and natural heritage, while firing up the BBQ and offering a cold beverage over a summer sunset. We can’t wait to have you over! Until then, please enjoy this Wanju nitja Noongar boodja (Welcome to Country) film that we have prepared for you.”

A Letter to the Community Regarding Racial Injustice

Dear Marine Mammal Science Community,

A core tenet of the Society for Marine Mammalogy is that our science is strengthened by the participation of people representing all ages, races, national, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds, genders, gender identities, sexual orientations, and physical abilities. Our science is at its best when all voices are at the table.

Today, the tears of the SMM join those of the rest of the world as we grieve the latest in a long string of killings and systemic abuses against black Americans. We add our voices to those who have been historically oppressed in saying, enough. We can no longer stand idly by as our colleagues and friends in African American communities continue to be minimized, sidelined, abused, and suffer.

The Society for Marine Mammalogy has an obligation to speak at a time like this and give our support to the communities that have been under siege – an obligation that we have not previously fulfilled. Unfortunately, far too many of our members and their communities are continuously silenced through the insidious forces of institutionalized racism, sexism, and political and religious intolerance. This statement is a renewal of our commitment to our membership and our global community at large to do our part to actively create a diverse, inclusive and tolerant world. Thus, SMM will continue its mission working to make spaces where all people are welcome and free to pursue their interests.

We hope you will feel free to share your thoughts and feelings with us during these difficult times. We are regularly looking for ways to support our members and provide a safe community for all.

 

D. Ann Pabst, SMM President

Charles Littnan, SMM President-Elect

Eric Archer and Tara Cox
Co-Chairs of the Ad hoc Committee on Diversity and Inclusion

 

On behalf of and with support from the SMM Board