SMM2017 Workshops
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2017: A Marine Mammal Odyssey, Eh!
22nd Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals
October 28th & 29th, 2017
Workshop TitleDayDuration
Workshop LeadWorkshop Abstract
Saturday, October 28, 2017 & Sunday, October 29, 2017
Cetacean abundance and distribution in the North Atlantic
Two Days
40Jill Prewitt
The aim of the Workshop would be to gather scientists involved in cetacean surveys in the North Atlantic in 2015 and 2016 from the NAMMCO countries (Norway, Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands), the EU (SCANS-III), Canada, and the USA to 1) create a detailed plan for a combined analysis of cetacean survey data in the North Atlantic and 2) discuss what is driving changes in cetacean distribution and abundance in the North Atlantic. This workshop is relevant to the conference in that it will provide a broad overview of the current status of cetaceans across the North Atlantic. The audience will be the scientists who have organized and participated in recent cetacean surveys. The format will include presentations on survey methods/details, abundance estimates, and summary presentations. The workshop will consist largely of discussions on how the information from these surveys can be combined to provide the best understanding of the current status of cetaceans in the North Atlantic. The output will be a report detailing the overall discussions. NAMMCO is also planning on publishing a volume in the peer-reviewed NAMMCO Scientific Publications series on recent surveys, and participants to this workshop will be invited to submit papers for publication.
Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) of marine mammals
Two Days
200Jens Koblitz
Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) has now been used in several large projects that have produced results that could not be achieved by other methods within realistic budgets, but it is a young method with multiple challenges. This workshop aims to focus on all issues that impact efforts to use PAM of all marine mammals and present recently finished and ongoing projects. Both static acoustic monitoring as well as towed systems will be presented and three taxa, namely toothed whales, baleen whales and pinnipeds be covered. Topics will include: 1. Available instruments, methods of data analysis and comparison thereof 2. Performance of classifiers including false positive rates, noise impacts, and time costs 3. Species identification 4. Detection functions, including cue rates, detectability 5. Density estimates, comparability with other methods 6. Large PAM projects, project design, long-term monitoring and MPAs, logistics, managing, analyzing and presenting large date sets 7. Future developments
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Marine mammal biological research collections: status and future direction of specimen archives and museum collections used in research and conservationSatFull Day40Dee Allen
Marine mammal biological research collections are invaluable resources for investigating life history, stock delineation, morphology, and biodiversity. In addition to traditional taxonomic and life history studies, these collections routinely reinvent themselves by supporting the application of new technologies and even entire fields of science unimaginable at the time of collection. Furthermore, some specimens may represent the only window into the biology and mere existence of rare or enigmatic species. The knowledge gained from studies of archived specimens is cumulative; therefore, maintaining physical collections of biological tissues is vital to their utility. Despite their importance, marine mammal research collections are at risk due to decreased support. This workshop will survey existing biological collections and discuss strategies for future support, coordination, curation, enhancement, access, and planning. Primary objectives include: 1) Foster engagement between senior and early career researchers and catalyze discussions of classic and novel lines of inquiry and techniques, 2) Evaluate the types of research collections and databases available and summarize breadth of research conducted, 3) Highlight the importance of collections in conservation, health, and global environmental monitoring, and 4) Recommend improvements for integrating archived specimens with other databases (e.g., life history data) and identify mechanisms for interoperability within and across institutions.
Analysis of Data from High-Resolution Animal-Borne TagsSatFull Day30Stacy DeRuiter
Bio-logging studies with high-resolution movement-sensors offer opportunities to observe animal behavior in unprecedented detail, but analysis of the resulting data is often complex, and there is a need for freely available, easy-to-use, flexible software tools along with appropriate training to facilitate analysis and interpretation. This 1-day workshop introduces participants to a new open-source tool kit for processing data from tags with movement sensors (such as pressure, accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope). The tool kit has Matlab, Octave, and R versions, and includes tools to read/write, calibrate, process, visualize, and carry out statistical analysis of datasets from multiple tag types. This workshop will present material from one module of a 3-day workshop introducing the tools (to be offered in St Andrews, UK, August 2017); the conference workshop will focus on processing and visualization for marine mammal applications with some statistical analysis. In the afternoon there will be opportunity for hands-on work with participants' own data, if desired. The goal of the workshop is to enable high-quality, reproducible, sophisticated analyses of tag data, while also facilitating comparison of results between studies, tag-types and computational software. Subsidies may be available for workshop fees (contact organizers for details).
Not all is black and white: Identifying research challenges and solutions for the lesser known 'blackfish'SatFull Day35Elizabeth Zwamborn
This workshop will facilitate a gathering of scientists who study ‘blackfish’ species (pilot whales, false killer whales, pygmy killer whales, melon-headed whales, and lesser known killer whale populations). Innovative technology and study methods are leading to exciting new research possibilities within this group of cetaceans. However, given their generally pelagic or rural distribution, many populations of ‘blackfish’ are poorly understood. The goal of this workshop is threefold: to identify common challenges that arise while researching these species, to present new and exciting observations, and to encourage collaboration amongst the scientists who study them. This day will consist of series of presentations (morning – 20 minutes in length by invited speakers and workshop participants) and a group discussion identifying common research challenges and possible solutions (afternoon), with time allotted for networking (late afternoon). The outcome of this workshop will be a document outlining the research challenges discussed - with the goal of publication - as well as working collaborations amongst those who study these species worldwide. Nova Scotia is home to one of the oldest and longest running field studies of pilot whales, making this conference the ideal venue and occasion for hosting this important discussion.
Interpreting multiple types of geospatial scientific information to protect marine mammals: A practical guide for decision-makersSatFull Day35Francine Kershaw
Marine mammal protection is increasingly being carried out in a spatially explicit management context. Examples include Biologically Important Areas in the U.S., the Marine Noise Registry developed under the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and the global IUCN-led effort to identify Important Marine Mammal Areas. In turn, the scientific community has responded by developing geospatial techniques to inform these efforts, including those based on habitat models, satellite telemetry data, genetic information, and expert opinion. The protection of marine mammals is best informed through the collective consideration of these multiple types of geospatial information; however, differences in methodologies, spatial and temporal scales, and associated caveats and uncertainties can make it extremely challenging for decision-makers to interpret and apply them collectively in their decision-making. Goal: This workshop will develop practical guidance for decision-makers on how different types of geospatial scientific information can be collectively interpreted and applied to more comprehensively and effectively inform a broad range of marine mammal protection efforts. Audience: Decision-makers, marine spatial planners, scientists, communications experts Speaker format: Short presentations, general discussion, break out groups Outputs of the workshop: Short (approx. 10 page) guidance document targeted at decision-makers
Pinniped entanglement & rescueSatFull Day40Elizabeth Hogan
The entanglement of marine mammals in all forms of marine litter, particularly fixed and passive fishing gear, is increasingly recognized as a serious source of human-caused mortality for marine mammal populations. Recent estimates have determined that over 300,000 marine mammals die entangled in fishing gear annually. Recognizing this, the 88 member countries of the International Whaling Commission recently recommended the development of global capacity for understanding, responding to, and ultimately preventing these events, for species conservation and animal welfare as well as human safety and economics. Pinniped entanglements take many forms and impact many different species. This is a challenging and complex issue that researchers around the world are disparately working to address. This workshop will assemble a group of experts from various geographical and topographical areas to establish potential areas of coordination on pinniped entanglement issues around the world, discuss methods of prevention and disentanglement, and further develop means to create a global pinniped rescue body. This will include discussion on best tools and methodologies as well as data sharing on rates of incidence, causation, and preventative outreach and education.
Exploring the use of expert elicitation for the interim assessment of the population consequences of disturbanceSatFull Day40Leslie New
People are increasingly mindful of the impacts humans have on the marine environment. The more we learn, the more we are aware of our knowledge gaps. Yet if we are to conserve marine mammal populations for future generations, many management and conservation decisions will have to be made in the absence of perfect information. An interim approach to filling information gaps is expert elicitation (EE). EE is a structured framework for obtaining scientifically based and relatively reliable assessments founded on individuals’ knowledge. The workshop’s goal is to explore the efficacy of EE in marine mammal conservation within the context of the population consequences of disturbance (PCoD) framework. We will achieve this by training workshop participants, primarily students, in EE and taking them through the elicitation process. Participants will be provided with an information dossier, as well as short talks on the relevant marine mammal species. They will then be asked to estimate parameters in a PCoD model. The elicitation’s results and the participants’ feedback will help inform a standard protocol for the use of EE within the PCoD framework, ultimately allowing this approach to understanding the effects of disturbance on marine mammals to be used in a regulatory context.
Measuring hormones in marine mammals: Current methods, alternative sample matrices, and future directionsSatFull Day40Stephen Trumble
Jillian Wisse
Studies of health, hormones, and chemical exposure in marine mammals have historically been limited by lack of practical and proven methods. Recent endocrinology and contaminant studies are incorporating methods involving non-blood tissue matrices including blubber, skin, feces, blow (respiratory vapor), baleen and earplugs. The aim of this workshop is to unite researchers interested in assessing the usefulness in using these alternative sampling matrices in endocrinology-based research in marine mammals, discuss the usefulness of the alternative matrices, review state-of-the-art analytic techniques, discuss necessary validations and interpretation issues, and determine the utility of combining matrices in a synthetic, multi-matrix approach. This workshop will unite field researchers who have been testing practical methods of obtaining and storing specific sample matrices from the field, laboratory specialists who have validated new analytic techniques, and stranding and curating personnel to discuss potential availability of samples from necropsy archives and museum archives. The format will be an all-day workshop, the morning session consisting of 15-30 min talks followed by an afternoon of open discussions to determine possible solutions to analyte-specific pitfalls, field sampling, analysis, interpretation and costs associated with a specific natural matrix. This workshop will produce a review manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal.
Application and validation of compound-specific stable isotope analysis in studies of marine mammal ecology and eco-physiologySatFull Day50Cory Matthews
Compound-specific stable isotope analysis (CSIA) of amino and fatty acids offers advantages over traditional analysis of bulk tissues. CSIA is a potentially powerful tool to study marine mammal eco-physiology, movement, and foraging ecology. While this approach has been validated in numerous studies of invertebrates and fishes, application of CSIA to study marine mammal ecology and eco-physiology is relatively under-utilized. Building on two workshops held prior to the 2015 SMM biennial conference in San Francisco, we propose a 1-day workshop on this topic and invite submissions of abstracts from researchers who have used CSIA to study any aspect of marine mammal ecology (e.g. foraging, migration, distribution), or who have conducted validation studies with more traditional bulk tissue isotope analysis to help clarify how this method can be applied in both wild and captive settings. The workshop will consist of informal talks and presentations of data, and group discussions of uncertainties and limitations that need to be addressed through further study. In particular, students are invited to submit proposals for talks and poster presentations; we will host a small poster session if there is enough interest.
Assessing the responses of marine mammals to anthropogenic acoustic disturbanceSatFull Day75Helen Bailey
Anthropogenic sounds, such as from vessels, seismic surveys and pile-driving, can cause harm and disturbance to marine mammals over potentially large scales. In this workshop, we aim to draw on the experience of previous studies, identify lessons learned and recommendations for the future, and determine approaches for most effectively incorporating this knowledge into best management practices. This workshop follows the conference theme of reflecting on the journey of people who have studied this topic to inform future work. We will focus on four main themes: 1) Baseline data and models, examining appropriate measures, scales and resolutions, 2) Assessing individual responses to anthropogenic sounds, 3) Modeling population-level and cumulative effects of acoustic disturbance, 4) Application to best management practices. Each theme will consist of four talks of 15 minutes each followed by a 45 minute discussion session. The audience will include marine mammal scientists, bioacousticians, managers, and conservationists. This workshop aims to promote collaboration between early career and established scientists as well as with managers. The outputs of this workshop will include a report summarizing the presentations and discussion, and an invitation to participants to contribute manuscripts to a special theme section within a related peer-reviewed journal.
Women in marine mammal science: breaking down barriers to successSatFull Day60Erin Ashe
Women comprise approximately half of the Society of Marine Mammalogy’s (SMM) membership and a similar proportion are first authors in Marine Mammal Science. However, like other STEM fields, women continue to be underrepresented in career positions within the field of marine mammal science, in the SMM, and similar professional societies. In addition to challenges faced by women seeking higher positions in STEM fields, women face unique barriers to success when advancing in marine mammal science. This workshop seeks first to identify these barriers to success and then to present strategies that individuals and institutions (including the SMM) can implement to break the barriers down. Each of the two workshop components will include a combination of presentations, panel discussions, and breakout sessions that will feature a diverse group of women from a range of career stages and countries working in different sectors of marine mammal science, who can speak to the challenges and successes they have experienced advancing in the field. The specific topics will be refined by a survey in advance of the workshop, but are likely to cover external and internal barriers to seeking professional opportunities, grant writing, publishing, conducting fieldwork, science communication, and - building on the foundation established by Hooker et al. 2017 - career-life balance. The goals of the workshop are to: 1) provide a set of tools that women can use to advance their careers in marine mammal science, 2) create a virtual international network for women in marine mammal science to offer support and mentorship, 3) make recommendations to the SMM on formalizing a statement and programs related to diversity and inclusion, and 4) prepare a paper for submission to Marine Mammal Science summarizing the content and outcome of the workshop. While the workshop will focus on women’s leadership in marine mammal science, all conference participants are welcome to attend.
The Eighth International Sirenian SymposiumSatFull Day80Nicole Adimey
The Eight International Sirenian Symposium is an all-day meeting to foster communication between researchers, managers, and policy makers on all aspects of Sirenian Conservation. Individuals are invited to present novel research on Sirenian conservation and management, stranding response and medical assessment, monitoring applications, and general biology and research. The symposium will include presentations, a poster session, and a panel discussion on current topics surrounding Sirenian conservation. Sirenian items will be available for purchase to raise funds for travel grants.

The cost of this workshop has been supplemented by outside funding sources, therefore, participants will only be charged $25 USD. Please register early, as this symposium has limited seating.

Those interested in presenting research should submit an abstract (300 word limit, 12pt font) to Nicole Adimey ( by August 18, 2017. Preference will be given to speakers conducting research or addressing conservation issues outside the United States of America. Travel grants may be available for individuals traveling from outside the United States of America; contact Nicole Adimey directly via email.
SciCommercial: Science communication marketing and filmmaking workshopSatFull Day80Wiebke Finkler
High quality multimedia content and strategic planning processes lie at the heart of successful science communication of marine mammal research. But what are the elements that make effective creative content and what are the steps to implement an effective marine mammal based science communication project? This is a practical workshop for marine mammal researchers wanting to engage in science communication outreach, and learn how to create engaging multimedia content for public communication, with a particular focus on video production and storytelling. The workshop will introduce marketing and science communication theory and practice with a focus on its application to marine mammal based science communication and educational outreach to a variety of audiences. While the workshop focuses on filmmaking the principles can be applied to photography, podcasts/vodcasts and wider online and social media content.

Workshop activities include: 1. Introduction to relevant science communication and social marketing 2. Development of strategic science communication plan. 3. Filmmaking: Introduction to storytelling/filming/editing techniques. 4. Hands-on: Participants practice with own devices (phone/camera/tablet) to gain understanding of filmmaking techniques and/or discuss and develop individual marine mammal based science communication project strategies and content ideas aimed at for example blogs, e-books, websites and other social media.

Ideally participants come to the workshop with a real-world marine mammal related outreach project idea, and the workshop will help provide a practical step-by-step process, proposal and execution strategies. Participants have the opportunity to develop individual science communication outreach project plans based on the demonstrated science communication marketing (SciCommercial) model and practical content creation tips, using participants own communication devices such as phones or tablets (note: bring your own tablet, phone or camera). Please note that examples will be demonstrated using Apple devices such as iPad and iPhones.
Marine mammal mortality in global fisheries: assessment, mitigation, and capacity buildingSatFull Day100Leigh Henry
Bycatch is globally the greatest direct source of marine mammal mortality, with an estimated 650,000 animals killed per year (Read 2006). Improved fishery management in some countries has led to better bycatch monitoring, estimation of its population-level impacts, and implementation of measures to reduce fishing gear interactions. Proven bycatch reduction measures are sometimes adopted by mulitalteral organizations such as the prohibition on intentional purse seine net sets on marine mammals in the Indian Ocean. Recently, private eco-labels and the threat of unilateral trade measures are incentivizing marine mammal bycatch reduction efforts. Nevertheless escalating mortality is a continual challenge, particularly in small scale coastal gillnet fisheries. This workshop will identify marine mammal bycatch hotspots in global fisheries, review critical cases such as the vaquita bycatch in illegal gillnets, and highlight effective mitigation and assessment practices. Finally, recent efforts to address marine mammal bycatch through economic incentives (Lent and Squires 2017) will be discussed, including fishing industry efforts (
Experimental science in wild and captive marine mammalsSatFull Day130Jason Bruck
Given the difficulty working with marine mammals, research programs often have a long-term focus on favored populations, which can separate scientists that work with wild populations from those focusing on animals in facilities. However, the body of marine mammal research shows that findings from both sources are critical to understanding marine mammal cognition, communication, physiology, biology, and conservation challenges. This workshop includes lectures from prominent scientists who have published on both facility-managed and wild animals (e.g., Gerry Kooyman, Peter Tyack, Vincent Janik, Kathleen Dudzinski, Terrie Williams, Michael Moore, Xavier Manteca, Cynthia Smith). The workshop will provide insights into experimental science used in facilities and the wild to show how both approaches can complement each other. For example, including interrelated zoos can give greater data independence and controls absent in the wild; however, wild populations allow the evaluation of ecology on biology/behavior. Some animals in facilities are studied in the field, bridging differences between the methods. The speakers will discuss which settings are suited to provide data for scientific problems related to conservation, pathology, physiology, behavior, cognition and communication. Speakers will also discuss welfare in the wild and in facilities and make recommendations for the best approaches to solve conservation issues.
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Flukebook: a joint platform for citizen scientists and dedicated researchersSatHalf DayAM45Jason Holmberg
The use of citizen science data in wildlife research has grown over the last five years. Images and sighting reports from citizen scientists are now becoming the most abundant and inexpensive sources of wildlife data. With decreasing research budgets and increasing concerns for wild populations, citizen science has been seen as an important source of data collection, but also as a way of developing engagement on conservation issues with the public. But to date, many citizen scientist initatives are focused solely on pooling data and lack powerful tools for managing and analysing data. Flukebook enables cloud-based data management, computer-vision assisted species detection, automated photo-identification, and analysis (online and exported to common platforms) into one system which allows citizen scientists to contribute and track their submissions and the individual whales they have met, while also enabling collaboration between multiple insitutions of dedicated researchers in order to address questions over biological relevant scales across which no one research team could financially or practically operate. We are building a community of researchers, commercial naturalists, and public enthusiasts who are committed to these species. This workshop will detail Flukebook's capabilities and enable attendees to help shape Flukebook into a tool that is practical, accessible, and useful for all.
U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act research permittingSatHalf DayAM50Amy Sloan
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) oversee issuance of permits for take, import, and export of marine mammals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA). NMFS has jurisdiction over cetaceans and pinnipeds, except walrus. FWS has jurisdiction over dugong, manatees, polar bears, sea otters, marine otter, and walrus. The Marine Mammal Commission (the Commission) provides independent oversight of MMPA permits. The FWS oversees all U.S. permitting for export and import under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Each agency will provide an overview of their process for issuing research and other permits including how to submit a complete application, review of applications by the agencies (including ESA and other consultations) and the Commission, and important updates for permit holders and applicants. Updates include efforts underway to streamline permitting (e.g., updated application instructions, development of standardized research methods, and programmatic ESA consultations). The first half of the workshop will be dedicated to NMFS permits and the second half to FWS permits including CITES. Representatives from each agency will be available for questions: Amy Sloan (NMFS), Mary Cogliano (FWS), and Tiffini Brookens (the Commission).
Sanctuaries: The New Seascape for Captive CetaceansSatHalf DayAM150Lori Marino
The practice of displaying captive cetaceans to the public is reaching a major tipping point in the western hemisphere, as the public is increasingly uncomfortable with keeping cetaceans captive in concrete tanks. This shift in public opinion is also reflected in several ground-breaking regulatory, legislative and policy decisions in North America between 2014 and as recently as March 2017. In 2015, at the 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, we presented a full-day workshop entitled Sea-Pen Sanctuaries: Progressing towards Better Welfare for Captive Cetaceans to a capacity audience. Since then there has been significant progress made by two projects in North America and one in Italy. These are The Whale Sanctuary Project, the National Aquarium Dolphin Sanctuary, and a joint effort of the Tethys Research Institute and other Italian NGOs. The purpose of this workshop is not only to provide an update on a topic of enormous interest to the marine mammal community, but to begin to provide a roadmap to other organizations around the world (including aquariums and marine parks) motivated to create their own seaside sanctuaries for captive cetaceans. Representatives from all three projects will participate.
Saturday, October 28, 2017
Marine mammal individual based modelsSatHalf DayPM50Bernie McConnell
Individual based models offer an opportunity to synthesise environmental and biological processes and data over a range of temporal and spatial scales. Marine mammal examples have been developed to represent individual decisions and behavioural states, to model movement and energetics, and predict outcomes at population level. However, IBMs are also challenging to build and data hungry, and methods to formally estimate the parameters of such complex models are still in development. The aim of the workshop is to review areas of potential application and to facilitate their advancement. Both analytical and data challenges will be discussed, including model selection, parameterisation and search strategies. The final workshop programme will reflect interests of the participants, but is likely to include short presentations and discussions and coordination of future efforts. These may include ideas for future publications, potential opportunities for collaborative projects, and ways to share news and views online. We would very much welcome short talks with example applications (potential or actual), offers to lead discussion about common problems and possible solutions. Participants should send any queries\thoughts in advance of registration to the organisers. An agenda and discussion document will be prepared and circulated in advance to encourage debate during the session.
Reproducible Research with R, Git, and GitHubSatHalf DayPM50Robert Schick
Each week it seems there are articles in Nature or Science about the reproducibility crisis in science. And while modern software development tools make reproducible research within anyone’s reach, most ecologists are not exposed to software engineering workflows. Yet ecologists can assemble a reproducible workflow with tools like R, and git, which was developed to manage the Linux kernel. Even if you are a solitary researcher, a reproducible workflow offers immense benefits to one very important collaborator—your future self! A reproducible workflow allows you to return to and re-engage with your analysis at any point. Having a reproducible workflow will: 1) enhance any manuscript you submit; 2) allow you to share your analysis with other scientists; and 3) contribute to and build your lab’s knowledge base. Participants will learn how to use git to support all phases of an R-based analysis, including: data cleaning, storage, and analysis; documentation; modeling; and presentation. Participants will learn what git is, what it is capable of, how take advantage of its branching model, and how to connect to public code repositories like GitHub and BitBucket. Participants will also learn how to prepare a worked example designed to accompany a submitted, or published manuscript.
National Aquarium’s Dolphin Sanctuary – exploring research opportunitiesSatHalf DayPM50Brent Whitaker
The National Aquarium intends to move its small colony of dolphins to an outdoor warm weather sanctuary by 2020, with capacity to house up to 30. This workshop seeks to gather feedback from the research community on the unique opportunities for scientific learning that could be created, and the resources needed to do so. We are most interested in studies that advance the welfare and stewardship of free-ranging and managed care populations in the following areas: conservation science, welfare and care, and innovative technologies. Our vision is that the science conducted at the Dolphin Sanctuary will result in findings important to our understanding of cetaceans and foundational to policy decisions concerning ocean conservation. Participants in this workshop will be asked to identify gaps in relevant research and recommend opportunities that will inform the National Aquarium’s collaborative approach to working with the scientific community and building a compelling 10-year science agenda.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Cachalote Consortium 2017: Acoustics, genetics and the structure of sperm whale societies - implications for the conservation of ocean nomadsSunFull Day35Sarah Mesnick
The Cachalote Consortium was created in 2005 with the goal of bringing sperm whale researchers from multiple disciplines together to promote understanding of global patterns of sperm whale biology, ecology and conservation. Our biennial gatherings provide a forum for presenting progress, trading ideas, exchanging and standardizing methodologies and identifying knowledge gaps. In parallel to the 22nd Biennial conference conservation theme, we seek contributions that apply genetic and acoustic approaches to studying the structure of sperm whale societies and that discuss techniques (traditional and novel) that promote understanding at multiple scales: social, regional and global. Examination and integration of the patterns of genetic and acoustic (cultural) transmission have important implications for understanding how sperm whale populations may be structured and potentially for how they should be managed. This year we extend invitations to sperm whale scientists and to policy makers, providing a special opportunity to explore these topics as they relate to conserving nomadic ocean species, which have traditionally been based on dividing populations into geographic “stocks” rather than culturally-defined acoustic clans. The program will involve a series of short presentations, with much opportunity for discussion.
Investigation of live large whale stranding response techniquesSunFull Day70Brian Sharp
Live large whale strandings present marine mammal professionals with incredibly challenging response scenarios. The unique characteristics of species involved, stranding scene environmental challenges and health condition of the stranded whale are further complicated by resource availability and the overlying lack of response options. The goal of the workshop is to bring stranding responders and other marine industry professionals together to discuss what response possibilities exist, or should be developed. The workshop will review historic cases of live large whale response, both coordinated and ad-hoc, and attempt to qualify success to inform decision making for future events. New techniques will be discussed by workshop participants to identify any that have merit and deserve further investigation. The need for health assessments and post-release monitoring will be discussed. All techniques and tools will be reviewed from an animal health and welfare perspective. Responder and general public safety concerns will be emphasized and discussed.
Bayesian and Hierarchical Bayesian models for Capture-Recapture: Introduction to theory and practical learning in R & BUGSSunFull Day30Robert Rankin
Capture-recapture (CR) is a common and difficult framework for inference about marine mammal abundance, survival and movement. Current best practices (Program MARK) suffer major problems, such as inflexibility and MLE-convergence failures. There is also widespread misunderstanding about the philosophical differences between AIC-based analyses and Bayesianism. AUDIENCE: graduate students, new CR practitioners, veterans of Program MARK. TOPICS: i) Bayesian philosophy; ii) introduction to the BUGS language; iii) practical tutorials to implement 3 CR models (POPAN, PCRD, Multievent); iv) Bayesian model-selection (DIC vs the Marginal Likelihood); v) Hierarchical Bayes; vi) participant discussion on common challenges and potential solutions; vii) introduction to advanced topics (spatial capture recapture, mixture modelling, continuous-time models); viii) open-session (to be determined by pre-workshop participant outreach). FORMAT: Mixture of lectures, computer practicals in BUGS and R, and group discussions. OUTPUTS: R and BUGS code to implement models, learning materials, including online open-access to materials.
Marine mammal sensory systems: An integrated perspectiveSunFull Day75Jeffry Fasick
Sensory systems evolve in response to environmental pressures, providing advantages for specialized or generalized habitat use, foraging, communication, locomotion, and navigation strategies. Thus, understanding marine mammal sensory systems requires knowledge of the species’ life history, properties of the aquatic signals, and neurobiology of sensory reception. This workshop explores the recent discoveries and challenges confronting research in marine mammal visual, chemical, olfactory, somatosensory and auditory modalities. We invite participants interested in marine mammal sensory adaptations, and potential multimodal cognitive processes that may trigger behaviors indicative of perception. Our objective is to formulate a whole-organism understanding of how disparate sensory signals may integrate to help marine mammals survive. This full-day workshop begins with short presentations and panel discussions on each sensory system. Afternoon activities include breakout sessions organized around marine mammal taxonomic groups, and focused on the benefits of sensory integration specific to the taxon’s habitat, behaviors, and life history. We anticipate the workshop will foster collaborations among experts and students with diverse specializations, identify important knowledge gaps, develop hypotheses on multimodal integration, and produce applications for marine mammal conservation.
Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) in freshwater environmentsSunFull Day20Michael Tetley
The IUCN Joint SSC/WCPA Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force (MMPATF) is in the process of identifying a global network of Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs). IMMAs are a place-based conservation tool identifying discrete portions of habitat, important to marine mammal species, that have the potential to be delineated and managed for conservation. A series of regional workshop of assembled experts to identify IMMAs is underway using the IUCN / WCPA Marine Planning Regions to inform the extent of each workshop. However, marine mammal species, which occur in freshwater systems, present a slightly different scenario and application of IMMA guidance and selection criteria need further consideration. In comparison to purely marine environments, freshwater habitats (large estuaries, rivers, river basins, and lakes) are subject to differing ecological drivers, research considerations, and conservation management. The aim of the Society for Marine Mammal Conference Workshop on IMMAs in Freshwater Environments is to initiate a discussion with experts on the…
Distance sampling: Conventional and hierarchical methods for abundance in RSunFull Day35Trent McDonald
Estimating the number of individuals within a population is a fundamental task in marine-mammal biology. Distance sampling (often implemented as line--transect or point-count surveys) is a popular method of abundance estimation that corrects for imperfect detection. Conventional distance--sampling approaches have a rich history; however, a variety of analytical options currently exist, many of which rely on free Program R software. This workshop will familiarize participants with methods for distance--sampling analysis using Program R, and equip participants with the ability to identify and implement appropriate methods for given study designs. Participants will gain hands--on exposure to analytical options for conventional distance--sampling (i.e., the R packages Rdistance, Distance, and mrds), hierarchical distance--sampling (i.e., the R package unmarked), and a Bayesian individual-covariate model implemented using free JAGS software. We will compare the consistency of results and the availability of features across methods, helping participants determine which method may be most appropriate for a given study. The workshop will conclude with time for participants to analyze real--world data (either their own or instructor--provided), with instructor help. Each participant must provide a laptop computer. The workshop is designed for managers, researchers, and students with a basic understanding of statistics and working familiarity with Program R.
Developing Bayesian Belief Networks (BBNs) to improve decision-making during mass stranding eventsSunFull Day30Karen Stockin
Decision-making processes required by authorities during live stranding events are typically fraught with difficulties due to complicated, often interlinked variables, including but not limited to logistics, ethics, public perceptions and animal welfare. Bayesian Belief Networks (BBNs) are a graphical rule based modelling technique that have recently emerged as a useful research and management tool. BBNs can provide a visual depiction of the causal linkages between multiple environmental drivers and ecological state. Notably, in the absence of empirical data, BBNs can be constructed solely upon expert opinion, with subsequent independent assessment applied to assess the prediction accuracy of the model. This workshop aims to convene and engage individuals with relevant live stranding event experience to determine as a collective, key parameters and their predicted probability of influence on survivorship of refloated cetacea post-stranding event.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Killer whales in western North Pacific and the Okhotsk SeaSunHalf DayAM35Yoko Mitani
Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are distributed in all oceans of the world, and those in the Northwest US and western Canada have been well studied since 1970’s. Whereas on the opposite side of the Pacific, Russian Far East killer whales are studied since late 1990’s, and intensive studies have just started in the eastern Hokkaido, Japan since 2010. The studies in Japanese waters have revealed many killer whales are observed in Nemuro Strait in early summer, and off Kushiro in fall, and photo identification, acoustic and tracking studies are currently underway. Although their social structure and prey preferences are still unknown, this population seems to migrate along Kuril islands and share the same calls with Russian waters. The goal of this workshop is to begin discussion among people studying killer whales in the North Pacific and the Okhotsk Sea focusing on similarities and differences between locations.
Development and implementation of low-cost methods to reduce cetacean bycatch in small scale gillnet fisheriesSunHalf DayAM50Per Berggren
Bycatch in gillnet fisheries is considered the most significant threat to cetaceans globally. In most cases cetacean bycatch rates are relatively low from a fishery perspective but high, and often unsustainable, from a cetacean population perspective. These are significant challenges to overcome when developing, testing and implementing potential bycatch mitigation methods. This Workshop focus on low-cost cetacean bycatch solutions for small scale (artisanal) fisheries and particularly developments since SMM 2015. The Workshop will review available new bycatch reduction methodologies/gear modifications, and results from recent and ongoing bycatch mitigation trials. The Workshop will also identify areas and fisheries with relative high bycatch rates where bycatch mitigation trials may be conducted with high statistical power. This would be facilitated through development of collaborative international research proposals with participation of researchers from areas where trials are logistically difficult but where the results would be applicable. The Workshop will further review how to move from successful trial to implementation, particularly in locations and fisheries where legislation may be absent. The Workshop will primarily address drift-and set gillnet fisheries and identify the most promising low-cost mitigation for both echo- and non-echolocating species. Workshop discussions will be introduced and stimulated by case study presentations.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Catching the right fish: a toolbox for place-based risk assessment of marine mammal bycatchSunHalf DayPM50Ellen Hines
Marine mammal bycatch, a major threat, poses particular challenges in developing countries. Data to document bycatch and the effects of bycatch are often lacking as research takes limited time, money, and training. We have designed a suite of spatial tools that enable scientists to conduct place-based bycatch risk assessments that can be used in sites with varying gaps in data. The tools are hosted on a website and have open-source processing. We will demonstrate and train delegates to use the toolbox with existing data from our field sites in Southeast Asia. We will also ask delegates to come with a summary of their current abundance, distribution and fisheries data. Then in mixed groups, we will determine data gaps, needs, and commonalities, such as needs for training, outside consultants, regional workshops, funding or technology. We will also evaluate each site using interdisciplinary methods as found in Teh et al (2015) to determine how socio-cultural and economic dynamics contribute to bycatch. Our output will be a joint article that will summarize our discussions as a first global view of how these methods will support practitioners to estimate marine mammal population abundance, bycatch, fisheries and find effective measures to reduce bycatch to sustainable levels.
Workshop Details