Category Archives: Society News

Editors’ Select Webinar, May 16th 2024: Are abrupt humpback whale song changes specific to the Southern hemisphere?

You are invited to the next edition of the SMM Editors’ Select Webinar 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 Thursday May 16th 2024 at 8 am EDT / 2 pm CET
for the next SMM Editors’ Select Series Webinar:
Are abrupt humpback whale song changes specific to the Southern hemisphere?
with Drs. Maria Isabel Gonçalves and Divna Djokic

This event is free to attend and presented online via Zoom, but registration is required.
Register here: ZOOM REGISTRATION
Space on Zoom is limited to the first 500 attendees. The talk will also be streamed on the SMM Facebook page.

About this talk:
The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a species known for its singing abilities. Humpback whale song is a complex system built in a methodical way: units, the smallest elements – similar to notes – combine to form phrases, repeated phrases constitute a theme, and different themes make up a song. Each population of humpback whales has a specific song, which is predominantly expressed on the breeding ground.
These songs change throughout the year. When the change is subtle, it is called song “evolution”. Sometimes, however, songs go through sudden and intense changes, recognized as song “revolutions”. These abrupt changes have so far only been recorded in humpback whale populations in Australia and surrounding areas.
Our understanding of how, why, and how much difference there is between song “evolution” and “revolution” is still growing. However, using passive acoustic monitoring, we identified abrupt changes in humpback whale song in the Southwest Atlantic, off the Brazilian coast. We suggest this is the newest case of song revolution and the first recorded outside of the Pacific. Our findings also indicate these kinds of abrupt changes may only occur in Southern hemisphere humpback whale populations, and in this talk we propose several reasons for this difference from Northern hemisphere whales.

About the presenters:
Divna Djokic is a biologist originally from Serbia. As Serbia has no sea, she headed to the coasts to learn to speak whale. She completed a Masters in Marine Ecology in the lab of Dr. Michel Andre, focused on the acoustic ecology of sperm whales and worked as a Marine Mammal Observer in Italy before heading to Brazil, where she completed a PhD in humpback whale acoustics under the supervision of Dr. Renata Sousa Lima. The paper she will present with her colleague Isabel is a part of her PhD thesis research.

Maria Isabel Gonçalves is a Portuguese marine biologist who lives in Brazil and coordinates the Whales from the Hill Project. She received her PhD in Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation from the State University of Santa Cruz, Brazil, which was the starting point of the Whales from the Hill Project, a research and conservation effort that studies humpback whales in southern Bahia. Her interests include the ecology, behavior, and communication of cetaceans and communicating science to the broader public.

Open access to this article is made temporarily available in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here. Current SMM members have access to all Marine Mammal Science papers.

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.

*Please note that this will be the last Editors’ Select Series Webinar until after the SMM Biennial Conference in Perth, WA in November 2024*

Conservation Grant Program 2024

The SMM Conservation Grant Program will be accepting proposals for new grants in July 2024.

The SMM has established a conservation endowment to help fund grants to catalyze real conservation efforts for the world’s most endangered marine mammal species.

How to enter:
Eligibility and application details are available at marinemammalscience.org: call-for-smm-conservation-fund-proposals

For more details or to donate to this fund, contact the Conservation Fund Coordinator at conservationfund@marinemammalscience.org.
For information on previous awards, see
marinemammalscience.org: /smm-conservation-fund-awardees

Application deadline: 31 July 2024.
Awardees will be announced at the biennial conference.

Winner Announced for the Louis M Herman Research Scholarship 2024

 

Congratulations to Emma Chereskin for winning the Louis M Herman Research Scholarship 2024 for her proposal;

Vocal communication and the cooperative mind: Exploring vocally mediated collaboration during a polyadic cooperative act in wild bottlenose dolphins

Louis M. Herman, Ph.D. and Emeritus Professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA, will always be remembered for his innovative, creative, and scientifically rigorous approach to the study of the marine mammals he so loved, and for the future generations of marine mammal researchers he and his work continue to inspire. The Louis M. Herman Research Scholarship supports research projects that contribute to our understanding of either cetacean cognition and sensory perception (laboratory or field studies), or humpback whale behavioural ecology or communication.

The 2023-24 call for proposals inspired 15 proposals from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, Hong Kong SAR, Madagascar, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, and the United States of America. The quality of submissions was extremely high and competitive, making the review panel’s task challenging.

Thank you to the Chair and members of the LMHRS review panel for their hard work!

 

 

Editors’ Select Webinar: Cost of migration and migratory timing in Western Australian humpback whales, with Grace Russell

You are invited to the next edition of the SMM Editors’ Select Webinar 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 Thursday April 18th 2024 at 04 pm PDT / 7 pm EDT / 7 am AWST (+1)
for the next SMM Editors’ Select Series Webinar:
Cost of migration and migratory timing in Western Australian humpback whales
with Grace Russell

This event was recorded live and published on youtube.
For future events, please check our news room or join the SMM Facebook page.

About this talk:
Migratory humpback whales cover the cost of reproduction in low-latitude breeding grounds with stored energy accumulated from polar feeding grounds. The ability to accumulate sufficient energy reserves during feeding periods is vital for key life history stages during migration, including mating, calving, and lactation. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between migration timing and body condition of Western Australian humpback whales. We used drone footage to measure body condition by obtaining morphometric measurements from 460 individuals. The body condition of juveniles was shown to be correlated with migration timing for their northern migration, with individuals in better body condition migrating to the breeding grounds earlier. While stored energy is vital for humpback whales to successfully complete their vast migration to-and-from breeding grounds, we found no evidence that body condition affects the migration timing for adults, lactating females, and calves.

About the presenter:
Grace has recently completed her PhD at Southern Cross University in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales. For the past four years she has studied the body condition of the two breeding populations of humpback whales in Australia (east and west coast) and the South-east Indian Ocean population of pygmy blue whales, exploring the relationship between migration timing and body condition, as well as energetic usage over their migration. During her PhD Grace created The Fat Whales Project and now her research focuses on the energetics, physiology and morphology of cetacean species in Australia. Grace is an experienced remote pilot (using drones) and has worked on marine mammal research projects in Bremer Bay (orca), Ningaloo Reef (blue whales), and the Great Barrier Reef (dolphins).

Open access to this article is made temporarily available in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here. Current SMM members have access to all Marine Mammal Science papers.

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.

 

SMM2024 Conference: Abstract and workshop submissions closing March 26!

Dear Marine Mammal Community,

You are invited to join the Society for Marine Mammalogy’s 25th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals this November in Perth, Western Australia! Abstract and workshop proposal submissions for SMM2024 are due
in two weeks time!

The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, March 26, 2024 at 12 PM (noon), Australian Western Standard Time (AWST) (GMT +8).
To submit/sign-up head to smmconference.org 

The 2024 conference theme ‘Culture and Conservation: Fishing for Change’ shines a light on one of the most significant threats to marine mammals worldwide – interactions with fishing gear. There are 11 broad topics open for abstract submission: Anatomy And Physiology, Behavior And Culture, Climate Breakdown, Conservation And Management, Ecology And Evolution, Fisheries Interaction, Health And Welfare, Out Of The Blue, Science On A Shoestring and Social And Citizen Science.

We hope to see you in Perth this November!

Kind Regards,
The #PerthSMM2024 Organizing Committee
conference@marinemammalscience.org

President-Elect Vote Extended to March 14, 2024

Dear Members,

As you may be aware, the Society is currently holding a special election for the office of President-Elect.

Due to low voter turnout, we have decided to extend the ballot for one more week. The ballot will now be open until 14 March 2024 at 12 PM EST.

For members who have not already voted PLEASE VOTE NOW! Follow this link to the ballot.

Please note, following Dr. Stephen Trumble withdrawing his candidature last week, members who have yet to cast their vote can either endorse the remaining candidate, Dr. Jeremy Kiszka, or abstain.

For members who voted prior to 28 February, any votes cast for Dr. Trumble will be converted to ‘abstain’.

All the best,
Katharina J Peters
Chair, Nominations & Elections Committee

SMM Editors’ Select Series Webinar, 21 March 2024: A first investigation of geographical variation in Cape fur seals’ in-air vocalizations, with Dr. Mathilde Martin

You are invited to the next edition of the SMM Editors’ Select Webinar 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 Thursday March 21st 2024 at 10 am EDT / 3 pm CET
for the next SMM Editors’ Select Series Webinar:
A first investigation of geographical variation in Cape fur seals’ in-air vocalizations
with Dr. Mathilde Martin

This event was recorded live and published on youtube: https://youtu.be/yKh-DjF-7WU
For future events, please check our news room or join the SMM Facebook page.

About this talk:
Marine mammals are known to communicate extensively through acoustic signals in all their social interactions. In pinnipeds (seals, fur seals, and walruses), breeding takes place on land (or on ice) and individuals use in-air vocalisations to exchange information between mating partners or between mother and young. Cape fur seals breed at about 40 different breeding sites distributed along the southwest and south coasts of Southern Africa. These colonies are located on both the mainland and islands and are characterized by various terrains such as bare rock, boulders, ledges, or open sandy beaches. In this study, we compared the acoustic features of Cape fur seals’ vocalisations recorded at 6 different study sites in Namibia and South Africa to investigate potential geographical variation in the species’ vocal repertoire. Comparisons among closely located sites revealed limited geographical variation whereas more pronounced differences were found in the frequency structure of males, females and pups’ vocalisations recorded at more distant sites. Although we were unable to control for certain factors (mainly due to the difficulty of accessing the colonies), we discuss here the potential impact of social and environmental factors in driving intra-species variation in Cape fur seals’ vocalisations. Such investigations help understand how acoustic communication in marine mammals is shaped by ecological drivers.

About the presenter:
Mathilde Martin is a biologist, specialist in animal behaviour, and more specifically in acoustic communication in terrestrial and marine mammals. Her research focuses on deciphering what information is encoded in their vocalisations and how vocal signals can modulate socials interactions, in relation to the species’ ecological constraints. Her approach combines audio recordings in the field, analyses of the acoustic structure of vocalisations and experimental tests on wild animals. Mathilde first explored the social calls exchanged during mother-calf interactions in humpback whales. Then, during her PhD at the Institute of Neurosciences Paris-Saclay, she investigated several aspects of the acoustic communication network of the Cape fur seal, such as the transmission of individual information, male-male or mother-pup individual vocal recognition systems, as well as the impact of noise pollution on the behaviour of these animals. She is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Zurich where she is studying the role of meerkats’ close calls in the maintenance of group cohesion during foraging.

Open access to this article is made temporarily available in the weeks around the presentation and can be found here. Current SMM members have access to all Marine Mammal Science papers.

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.

Please vote for the next SMM President-Elect

Dear Member,

As communicated on the 12th February, we are holding a special ‘snap’ election for the office of President-Elect to fill the role effective immediately. The ballot will be open for 2 weeks until 7 March 2024 at 12 PM EST.

Please sign in and vote here.

Thank you for your participation and your continued support of the Society and its values.

Katharina J. Peters
Chair, Nominations & Elections Committee

Special election to be held for the office of President-Elect

Dear Members,

This message is to inform you that we will shortly be holding a special ‘snap’ election for the office of President-Elect, following the resignation of Dr. Daniel Palacios from the position on 18 January 2024, approximately one year into his 2.5-year term (note that current Board members have an extended term to accommodate the delay in the timing of the 24th Biennial).

Our Secretary, Dr. Jeremy Kiszka, has agreed to act in the role of President-Elect (as well as Secretary) as our Constitution provides a path for the Board to fill the vacancy of the President-Elect office through succession, with the Secretary succeeding into the role of President- Elect (Article XI). However, Article XI also states that an ‘officer who succeeds to the position of President-Elect will not succeed to the Presidency unless elected by the membership in a regular election.’

To address this requirement, the Board has decided to hold a special election so that the person elected to the office of President-Elect can then succeed to the Presidency.

Normally, elections are held following the Biennial Meeting and the General Members Meeting. However, this option is not favored by the Board because it could lead to the Society having both a new President and a new President-Elect commencing their terms simultaneously, with the elected President having very limited time (perhaps just a few months) to serve as President-Elect before becoming President (in July 2025). The Board considers that this is not enough time to become familiar with the complex and demanding responsibilities of the President. The President-Elect position, by design, straddles successive Boards in recognition of the multiple responsibilities that must be learned during the period of office (usually 2 years).

The special election will ensure the elected President-Elect has sufficient time to gain critical experience to effectively execute their responsibilities as President; enable the Board to address the loss of an officer quickly and move forward with their critical, time-sensitive duties on behalf of the Society; and resolve the current requirement from Article XI and appoint (via special election) a President-Elect that can ascend to the Presidency.

The special election will conform to the regular election process. This involves the Nominations and Elections Committee providing the Board ‘with a slate of no more than two candidates’ (General Operating Policies 4.8.1), and the holding of an open online General Members Meeting lasting 5 days, during which ‘additional candidates may be nominated by Society members’ (General Operating Policies 4.8.2), followed by ‘an electronic ballot’ (General Operating Policies 4.8.3).

The open online General Members Meeting will commence Monday 12 February and close at 12 midnight GMT on Friday 16 February 2024. This meeting will provide the window of time during which members may nominate a candidate for President-Elect.

All candidates for President-Elect must be current members of the Society, be willing to serve as a member of the Board of Governors and provide a background and vision statement of up to 300 words (General Operating Policies 4.8.2).

If you are nominating a colleague for this position, please ensure that the individual agrees to be nominated and meets the criteria listed above. Nominators, and the individual seconding the nomination, must also be current members of the Society.

To nominate a colleague, please send the name of the nominee, your full name and the name of the individual seconding the nomination to elections@marinemammalscience.org. Please direct the nominee to send their statement of interest and photo to the same email address with subject heading, “President-Elect Nominee Statement”.

The open online General Members Meeting will be followed by the electronic ballot (members to be notified by email).

I encourage any members considering being nominated for the position of President-Elect to contact the President to discuss the role beforehand.

The Nominations and Election Committee, with the approval of the Board, have put forward a single nomination for the position of President-Elect, Dr. Jeremy Kiszka (acting President-Elect).

Any additional candidates nominated during the 5-day open online General Members Meeting will be included in the ballot.

If any member has any questions regarding the election, please contact myself (president@marinemammalscience.org) or Katharina Peters (Nominations and Elections Committee chair, elections@marinemammalscience.org).

Kind regards,
Simon

Simon Goldsworthy
President
The Society for Marine Mammalogy

Congratulations to our new Honorary Members, Miriam Marmontel and Barb Taylor

Dear Members of the Society for Marine Mammalogy,

I am thrilled to announce that both Miriam Marmontel and Barbara Taylor have been selected as honorary members of the Society for Marine Mammalogy. This prestigious honour is a testament to their unparalleled dedication, significant contributions, and profound impact on the field of marine mammalogy, and I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Miriam and Barbara.

Miriam and Barbara have exemplified excellence in their respective roles, pioneering advancements in research, conservation, and education related to marine mammalogy. Their unwavering commitment to understanding and protecting marine mammals has not only enriched our scientific community but has also inspired countless individuals to follow in their footsteps.

As honorary members, Miriam and Barbara join an esteemed cohort of individuals whose passion and expertise have shaped the course of marine mammalogy and paved the way for a deeper understanding of these fascinating creatures. Their induction as honorary members underscores their significant contributions to our society and reinforces our collective commitment to advancing the field of marine mammalogy.

Please join me in congratulating Miriam and Barbara on this well-deserved honour. We look forward to celebrating their achievements and continued impact within our society and beyond.

Katharina J. Peters
Chair, Nominations & Elections Committee