Postponement of SMM2021 Conference until August 2022

Aloha Marine Mammal Community,

We are reaching out today to share our decision to postpone both the in-person and the virtual 24th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals until 2022. The new dates will be Monday, August 1 to Friday, August 5, 2022 with workshops being held on Saturday, July 30 and Sunday, July 31, 2022. All conference venues will remain the same.

The SMM2021 Conference Team has been closely monitoring COVID infection and vaccination trends throughout the pandemic. The global surge of infections related to the Delta-variant and the slow and inequitable rollout of vaccines compromises our ability to maximize participant safety and inclusivity.

We know that this change will significantly impact many of you who have submitted abstracts, planned workshops, already registered, received a grant, sponsored the conference and more.  We have included information below regarding some of the more obvious questions we expect to receive, and we will continue to sort out more details and share them with you over the next few weeks. Rest assured, there is no need for you to act on anything at this time; we are going to be applying maximum flexibility on all aspects of the conference (e.g., refunds, grants, sponsorship, etc.).

Though the future seems exceptionally uncertain these days, we intend to provide a world-class conference in 2022. We will be using the intervening months to maximize in-person safety,  enhance our virtual program experience, more deeply promote the inclusivity of the conference, and expand sponsorship to reduce cost for members of our community that could be aided with financial support. We will ensure that we are communicating regularly with you on how the plan is progressing. Please keep checking back on our questions and answers page for all questions related to the postponed conference by following this link.


Key Questions You Might Have:

1. I already paid for conference registration. What should I do?
You don’t need to do anything!  We will be rolling all registrations forward to the future conference date. However, if there is a reason you would like a refund we will work with you. Please contact if you have any questions.  Please be patient while we work through requests.

2. What is your registration refund policy?
If you require a refund for your conference registration, or any other items you’ve already paid for (e.g. workshop, merchandise, etc.), please contact and we will work to provide you with a full refund until Wednesday, October 27, 2021 at 12pm (noon) EDT. After this date, our standard cancellation of $100 USD handling fee for registration cancellations will apply.

3. I didn’t take advantage of early bird registration because I was uncertain about traveling, will you be extending early bird now?
Don’t worry! We will be reopening and extending the early bird registration window. Early bird registration will now be open until Tuesday, March 1, 2022 at 12pm (noon) EDT. If you registered after the original early bird deadline and paid full price, please reach out to to request a partial refund until Wednesday, October 27, 2021 at 12pm (noon) EDT.

4. Can I change my presentation format (i.e. in person to virtual and vice versa)? 
The conference program has already been set with excellent content and we are hoping to minimize any changes in 2022. However, we realize that the change of conference date may change your preference for how you would like to present your work (i.e. in person vs. virtually).  If you would like to switch to a virtual presentation, or visa versa, we can accommodate your request. If you would like to switch to an in-person presentation we will put you on a waiting list and add you as spots become available. We will be extending the date to make these requests to Wednesday, April 13, 2021 at 12pm (noon) EDT.

5. What if my abstract/research changes (between now and next year)? Will I be able to update my abstract?
We realize that the later conference date may allow you to analyze that last bit of data. We can work with you to help you update your abstract if necessary. We will follow up with an announcement early in the calendar year to open a short window for updates. Presenters will be given one opportunity to update their abstracts.

6. Can we submit new abstracts? 
We will not be reopening abstract submissions. The program has been finalized and reproducing the abstract acceptance and review process would prove exceedingly difficult.

7. I’ve already booked my hotel. What should I do?
You can cancel your reservation with no penalty and rebook at your convenience. To visit the accommodation reservation portal, click HERE.   We will be establishing the new room block soon and will announce opening for rebooking or changing your reservation.

8. I’ve already paid for a workshop. What should I do?
We will be working with workshop organizers to determine how this delay might impact their workshop. If a workshop organizer needs to cancel their planned workshop, you will be refunded the full cost. If you no longer will be able to attend the workshop in person at the new date, we will refund the full cost. Please wait for updates and guidance. We will be sending out more information before Wednesday, October 27, 2021.

9. I’ve already paid for conference merchandise. What should I do?
You don’t have to do anything if you are still planning on attending the conference in person.  Products will not be shipped to attendees prior to or following the conference. So, if you will now be presenting virtually or no longer want the merchandise, please contact and we can provide a full refund.

10. I’m not going to be a student by the time the conference happens. What does this mean for my registration costs? Ability to get a student travel grant?
If you were going to be a student during the originally scheduled dates of the conference then we will honor that status at the conference in 2022 – even if your status has changed. Your registration costs and travel grant status will not change.  It is expected that all grant recipients maintain their Society for Marine Mammalogy membership.

11. Will I get to keep my student/low income country travel grant?
Yes! If you still plan on attending the conference you will be able to keep your travel grant. We are hoping that travel uncertainty will clear up before the postponed conference happens. If you received support to attend the conference in person and the date change means you will not be able to do so, then please work with your grant coordinator (Student Members-at-Large or International Relations Committee) to let them know of your change of plans and whether or not you will need the virtual conference costs covered.  It is expected that all grant recipients maintain their Society for Marine Mammalogy membership.

12. I need an updated conference receipt and/or VISA letter to support my travel in 2022. Who do I contact?
If needed, we will gladly provide an updated conference receipt or VISA letter with new conference dates to support your travel to Palm Beach. Please contact for assistance with these requests.


We hope to see many of you in August 2022 online or in person.

Be safe, be well.


 Charles Littnan, SMM President

Amy Hirons and Jeremy Kiszka, SMM Conference Co-Chairs

Stephen Trumble and Sascha Usenko, SMM Conference Scientific Co-Chairs

Leave a Reply