Nav: Home

Whale, dolphin, sea lion experts meet in San Francisco

December 14, 2015

From December 13-18, 2015 in San Francisco, California, USA up to 3,000 scientists engaged in marine mammal research, policy makers, government regulators, and educators will gather together at the world's largest conference of its kind, sponsored by the Society For Marine Mammalogy. The "21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals: Bridging the Past Toward the Future" will take place at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.

Early Monday, December 14th, the meeting launches with a plenary session outlining current and future directions marine mammal science. See the conference schedule links at the end of this release. Additional press releases and media availabilities will be issued during the week.

Top experts from various scientific disciplines related to marine mammals - which include whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, polar bears, sea otters, dugongs and manatees - will share their latest research findings and engage in discussions of current and emerging issues, and their implications for species survival. Human activity-related threats include habitat destruction, fisheries entanglement, ship strike, ocean noise, climate-related and chemical changes in our oceans; changes to species' range, health and population size are already evident. One small porpoise species, the vaquita, is at great risk of extinction due to unsustainable entanglement (bycatch) in fishing gear, if urgent management action is not put into place.

Society for Marine Mammalogy President Nick Gales, noted, "This conference is happening at a time when we are witnessing unprecedented scales of human-related threats and changes throughout the world's oceans, and not all species will adapt quickly enough to survive them. We've brought our best minds together to work on how our global membership of scientists can inform and support the development of solutions to these problems, and hope to emerge with novel, effective and evidence-based options for marine mammal management."

Top experts such as Sue Moore, Ph.D., whose work with California gray whales in their Arctic feeding grounds led to the discovery that the shrinking ice pack was sharply reducing their food supply, resulting in a massive die-off of grays in 1999-2000, will present on her work.

Other experts will address topics including: Acoustics, Anatomy, Behavior, Climate Change, Conservation, Distribution and Abundance, Education and Communication, Ecology, Evolution, Genetics and Genomics; Medicine and Toxicology (e.g., infectious disease, strandings, pathology), Physiology, Population Biology, and Sensory Biology, Shipstrike Mortality, and other conservation issues. Human Dimensions include Policy and Management, including protected species; Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), and international governance.

The Society for Marine Mammalogy, founded in 1981, is a non-profit entity whose mission is to promote the global advancement of marine mammal sciences.

Why You Should Cover SMM2015:

The Society for Marine Mammalogy holds biennial international meetings at different venues around the globe to enhance collaboration, share ideas and resources, and improve the quality of research on marine mammals within the global scientific community. The 21st Biennial Conference marks the meeting's first return to San Francisco since its founding in 1981: it is a rare and unique opportunity to interview scientists from around the globe, for current coverage and make connections for followup stories.

The meeting will focus on marine mammal conservation in a changing world and bring together leaders in the field from approximately 30 countries and every continent, from the Arctic to Antarctica and all areas in between, engaging marine mammal scientists of many disciplines, policy makers and others, enhancing collaborations and training the next generation of scientists and practitioners, fostering international partnerships and collaborations. In addition to keynote lectures* and oral presentations, there will be over 1,000 poster presentations and topical workshops on "hot" topics in marine mammal science.

ENVIRONS: The waters off San Francisco, and the California coast, Mexico and the Pacific Northwest are part of the California Current Ecosystem, one of the top four most biologically productive and diverse "hot spots" on the planet. The region boasts one of the greatest diversities of marine mammals anywhere in the world, with over 36 species: more than 22 species of cetaceans (dolphins, whales); six species of seals and sea lions; and two otter species. This region also hosts one of the largest concentrations of marine mammal scientists at area universities, research institutions, NGOs and government agencies.


*See conference schedule; opening plenary session and Conservation Award begins Monday morning, DEC 14th.




[Correction] Monday DEC 14, 12:30 - 1:30 pm: MEDIA BRIEFING in Union Square 5 Interview Room on new study published in Science this week on impacts of domoic acid (DA) poisoning on sea lions. This same toxin is the reason for San Francisco's Dungeness crab fishery closure. The pre-briefing talk will be on Monday December at 11:45 am in Imperial Room B. The press briefing speakers will include:

France Gulland (, The Marine Mammal Center: The West Coast Context: how this relates to crab fishery closures and potential implications.

Peter Cook (, 831-535-2686), University of California Santa Cruz and Emory University: Brief summary of key findings in paper.

Kathi Lefebvre ( Testing for domoic acid in wildlife.

Tuesday DEC 15, 6:00-8:00 pm, MEDIA MIXER, Grand Ballroom. Media are invited to join researchers at a cocktail reception during the Tuesday evening poster sessions. Researchers from around the world will be attending the posters describing their research. This is a unique opportunity for one-on-one access to them!

NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region

Related Conservation Articles:

New 'umbrella' species would massively improve conservation
The protection of Australia's threatened species could be improved by a factor of seven, if more efficient 'umbrella' species were prioritised for protection, according to University of Queensland research.
Conservation's hidden costs take bite out of benefits
Scientists show that even popular conservation programs can harbor hidden costs, often for vulnerable populations.
Trashed farmland could be a conservation treasure
Low-productivity agricultural land could be transformed into millions of hectares of conservation reserve across the world, according to University of Queensland-led research.
Bats in attics might be necessary for conservation
Researchers investigate and describe the conservation importance of buildings relative to natural, alternative roosts for little brown bats in Yellowstone National Park.
Applying biodiversity conservation research in practice
One million species are threatened with extinction, many of them already in the coming decades.
Making conservation 'contagious'
New research reveals conservation initiatives often spread like disease, a fact which can help scientists and policymakers design programs more likely to be taken up.
Helping conservation initiatives turn contagious
New research shows that conservation initiatives go viral, which helps scientists and policymakers better design successful programs more likely to be adopted.
Overturning the truth on conservation tillage
Conservation tillage does not lower yield in modern cropping systems.
Talking to each other -- how forest conservation can succeed
Forest conservation can be a source of tension between competing priorities and interests from forestry, science, administration and nature conservation organizations.
Better conservation through satellites
The use of satellite telemetry in conservation is entering a 'golden age,' and is now being used to track the movements of individual animals at unprecedented scales.
More Conservation News and Conservation Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 3: Shared Immunity
More than a million people have caught Covid-19, and tens of thousands have died. But thousands more have survived and recovered. A week or so ago (aka, what feels like ten years in corona time) producer Molly Webster learned that many of those survivors possess a kind of superpower: antibodies trained to fight the virus. Not only that, they might be able to pass this power on to the people who are sick with corona, and still in the fight. Today we have the story of an experimental treatment that's popping up all over the country: convalescent plasma transfusion, a century-old procedure that some say may become one of our best weapons against this devastating, new disease.   If you have recovered from Covid-19 and want to donate plasma, national and local donation registries are gearing up to collect blood.  To sign up with the American Red Cross, a national organization that works in local communities, head here.  To find out more about the The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, which we spoke about in our episode, including information on clinical trials or plasma donation projects in your community, go here.  And if you are in the greater New York City area, and want to donate convalescent plasma, head over to the New York Blood Center to sign up. Or, register with specific NYC hospitals here.   If you are sick with Covid-19, and are interested in participating in a clinical trial, or are looking for a plasma donor match, check in with your local hospital, university, or blood center for more; you can also find more information on trials at The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project. And lastly, Tatiana Prowell's tweet that tipped us off is here. This episode was reported by Molly Webster and produced by Pat Walters. Special thanks to Drs. Evan Bloch and Tim Byun, as well as the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  Support Radiolab today at