Category Archives: Conference News

Announcing SMM’s First Hybrid (Online and Live) Biennial Conference

Dear SMM members and future conference participants,

The very first fully hybrid conference of the Society for Marine Mammalogy will be held on December 13-17, 2021. Going hybrid means there are two ways to participate in SMM2021: live and in-person at the Palm Beach County Convention Center and/or virtually through our new online experience.

Our top priority is to provide a safe, healthy and inclusive experience for ALL participants at SMM2021.

All attendees will have access to the virtual conference so people who will not be able to join the conference in person will still be able to participate, present, and interact with other conference attendees and vendors. It will be a whole new conference experience!

The conference will span 5 days and each day there will be a Plenary session with distinguished keynote speakers that will be live-streamed. Concurrent sessions will be accessible to all attendees via pre-recorded content. All presenters in all formats (e.g., regular and speed talks, poster, video) will be required to record and upload their presentation 4 weeks prior to the conference start date. Virtual content will be available on-demand for all in-person and virtual attendees during the conference and for 30 days post-conference.

In-person presentations will be presented live at the venue; these sessions will not be live-streamed. All pre-recorded presentations will be made available at the start of each respective session for virtual and in-person attendees. In addition, a virtual Q & A session with the presenters will be streamed for the virtual audience during scheduled times following the completion of each live session.

Workshops on crucial topics in marine mammal science and conservation will be held prior to the main conference, December 11-12, 2021. Virtual participation in these workshops will depend on individual workshop organizers, but will not be included in the virtual conference experience.


The deadline for abstract and workshop proposal submissions is 11:59 PM, EST (GMT-5) on April 11, 2021. You DO NOT have to pay for registration or decide whether you will be participating in-person or virtual at the time of abstract or workshop submission; however, we are asking you to indicate your preference at the time of submission.

Acceptance emails for abstracts and workshops will be sent on June 8, 2021. Authors will have until 11:59 PM, EST (GMT-5) on June 24, 2021 to confirm their participation and determine if they are presenting in-person or virtually. Authors will receive an email with their assigned date and time for presenting on July 27, 2021. To confirm and hold your space, authors are required to complete registration by the early bird registration deadline of 11:59 PM, EST (GMT-5) on August 11, 2021.

All presenters will have until 11:59 PM, EST (GMT-5) on September 15, 2021 to change their participation preference (i.e. virtual to in-person and vice versa) without penalty. After September 15, there will be no refunds for registration.

See you this December!


The SMM2021 Organizing Committee
Amy C. Hirons, Conference Co-Chair
Jeremy J. Kiszka, Conference Co-Chair
Stephen Trumble, Scientific Program Co-Chair
Sascha Usenko, Scientific Program Co-Chair
SMM2021 Facebook Event

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.”

Please Read and Sign Barcelona Declaration – Together for Marine Mammal Science and Conservation

At the World Marine Mammal Conference, the Organizing Committee released the Barcelona Declaration – Together for Science and Conservation. The declaration highlights what international collaborations among scientists, public and private sectors can achieve by working together, for the benefit of marine mammal science and conservation worldwide.
Please, dedicate two minutes to read and sign the declaration (if you agree with it!).
(even if you have already signed it on paper in Barcelona!)
Thank you!

World Marine Mammal Conference Plenary Sessions

Please find below the three plenary sessions presented at the World Marine Mammal Conference in Barcelona between December 8-12, 2019, co-hosted by Society for Marine Mammalogy and the European Cetacean Society.

WMMC 2019 Plenary Session: “Marine Mammals and Climate Change”


WMMC 2019 Plenary Session: “Conservation Interventions”


WMMC 2019 Plenary Session: “Overcoming Challenges to Marine Mammal Research”

In Memoriam – Remembering Colleagues Lost 2017-2019

At each Biennial Conference, we honor those colleagues whom we have lost over the last two years. It is one of the most important things we do as a Society and a community. We wish to thank the family members, friends and colleagues who contributed their photos and memories of the individuals included in this Biennial’s In Memoriam. We also thank Mr. Jarrett Corke for its production, and the artists who permitted us to use their music for this tribute.

We have made the In Memoriam available here to be shared with colleagues, family and loved ones.

Member’s Meeting Reminder (Tuesday, 10 December 2019 17:45-19:00)

Hello Everyone!

I hope that this email finds you all very well!  We are already seeing many of you in Barcelona and I wish safe travels to the World Marine Mammal Conference for those still in route.

For our members who cannot attend, we will miss you!  I hope you can stay engaged with the conference through SMM and WMMC social media outlets, and through your friends and colleagues who will be attending!

I am writing, too, to remind us that our General Members Meeting will be Tuesday, 10 December, at 17:45-19:00, in the auditorium, directly after the Plenary on Conservation Interventions, and directly before the Student Event!

At our meeting, we will:

  • highlight recent accomplishments of our Society
  • recognize SMM award winners
  • hear from our Ad-Hoc Diversity and Inclusion Committee
  • hear about SMM’s financial status from our Treasurer
  • get a brief update from our 2021 Conference Committee
  • hear presentations from organizations interested in hosting our 2023 Biennial
  • learn the nominees for offices from our Nominations and Elections Committee and take nominations from the floor.
  • open the floor to ask you for your input, insights, suggestions, and criticisms!

We will end the meeting with a message from our President-Elect!

Will the SMM General Member Meeting be as relaxing and fun as going for a libation with your friends and colleagues?  Likely not!  But is it an important opportunity to hear what your Society has been working towards, to honor your colleagues, and to lend your voice to make us stronger?  Absolutely!

We hope very much to see you there!

Best wishes – Ann

Helene Marsh Awarded Norris Award

Hello Good Colleagues!

It is with great pleasure that I remind us all that Dr. Helene Marsh has been awarded the Norris Award for 2019. This reminder comes as we prepare for the World Marine Mammal Conference, where Dr. Marsh will be speaking at the Closing Ceremony!

Dr. Marsh is an Emeritus Professor and Dean of Graduate Research Studies at James Cook University in North Queensland, Australia. She conducted her graduate studies at James Cook University. The focus of her research has been dugong population ecology, and has been committed to informing interdisciplinary solutions to conservation problems. She is a Fellow of both the Australian Academies of Science and Technological Sciences and Engineering and has chaired the National Threatened Species Scientific Committee of Australia. She also served as the Society for Marine Mammalogy President from 2012-2014.

The Norris Award is a lifetime achievement award, honoring a career of excellence in scientific research on any aspect of marine mammalogy. As the recipient of this award, Dr. Marsh has been invited to present a talk at the World Conference, and to submit a written paper from her lecture for publication in Marine Mammal Science. The award also includes a life-time honorary membership to the Society.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Marsh on this well-deserved honor. We look forward to hearing her talk at the World Marine Mammal Conference next week and to reading her paper in Marine Mammal Science!

Warm regards,
D. Ann Pabst
President, Society for Marine Mammalogy

Call for 2023 SMM Conference Venue Hosts

Aloha SMM Community-

One of my responsibilities for the Society is to bring to the membership options for the venue for our 2023 Biennial (as a reminder 2021 will be in Florida). As we have in the past, we are reaching out to the membership to engage with groups who may wish to host the conference in their region. This challenging but important honor is vital to our scientific, conservation and educational mission, so we hope several groups will step up to the opportunity.

We are open to hear from any geographic location, but are especially interested in venues outside of North America. We would also strongly encourage expressions of interest from regions/countries that have not previously hosted the conference. For a list of past conference locations, follow this link.

We will simultaneously be exploring venue options through our contracted conference organizing company. This might allow us to find a more cost effective location, but would require organizing and scientific committees to work remotely from the site with occasional travel to the venue. So if your group is interested in hosting a conference, but do not happen to be around facilities that could support it, this could be an opportunity for you.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions about this opportunity or what hosting the conference entails at It is hard work but there is a lot of support from the Society and previous conference organizers. Our Society benefits from having several choices and these efforts are focused on finding the most cost effective model for holding a conference to ensure it is as accessible as possible to our entire membership.

I would like to receive expressions of interest by Friday August 23 so that there is sufficient time to work with each group in the lead up to the conference. Conference venues will be presented and voted on by the membership at the closing members meeting in December.

Thanks in advance to everyone who considers this opportunity/request

Charles Littnan, PhD.
SMM President-Elect

2019 F.G. Wood Award and John R. Twiss Jr. Award Winners Announced

During the year of the biennial conference, the Society for Marine Mammalogy gives out two awards for student papers published in Marine Mammal Science.  The awards are F. G. Wood Award and the John R. Twiss, Jr. Award.     

The Wood Award was established in honor of Forest G. Wood, a founding member of the Society for Marine Mammalogy and is given for the best student paper published in Marine Mammal Science during the period between the Society’s Biennial Conferences. The award includes an opportunity to deliver a session presentation on the topic of the award paper at the Biennial Conference, and funds to cover costs of participation in the Conference (registration, travel, lodging, meals, and necessary incidental expenses). Judging of eligible papers is be done by the Editor in consultation with the Board of Editors. There was a total of 33 eligible papers evaluated. The winner is this year is Hannah Cubaynes for her paper entitled, “Whales from space: four mysticete species described using new VHR satellite imagery.”

The Twiss Award was established in honor of John Twiss Jr., who was the first Executive Director of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission and is given for the best student paper that describes innovative research related to marine mammal habitat and ecosystem conservation. A committee of four judges, evaluated the top-ranking papers that were eligible. There was a total of 22 eligible papers. The Twiss Award winner receives $500 and a certificate. The winner this year is Guillemette Labadie for her paper entitled, “First demographic insights on historically harvested and poorly known male sperm whale populations off the Crozet and Kerguelen Islands (Southern Ocean)”

24 Hours until WMMC 2019 Abstract Submissions and Workshop Proposal Deadline


This is a friendly reminder from your WMMC’19 Organizing Committee that there are 24 hours left before the abstract and workshop submission deadline – April 30, 2019 at midnight, Barcelona time (GMT +1).

If you have not completed and/or submitted your abstract or workshop yet, please login to the conference system via ECS or SMM to submit your abstract.

Please select from the options below to sign-in to the conference system:

  • For ECS members, click here.
  • For SMM members, click here.
  • For those who are not currently a member of either society, and do not plan to become members, you can choose to login as a non-member (via SMM). To create an account as a non-member, click here.

* Please be sure to use the same account to submit an abstract (i.e. ECS, SMM, Non-Member), as you would to register for the conference.

If you have any questions, please contact our Abstract Review Team. Workshop questions? Please contact our Workshop Team. We look forward to reviewing your submissions for WMMC’19!


WMMC’19 Organizing Committee