Monday, 8 April 2013

Setubal - Monday


So, what am I doing here? Well the annual meeting of the European Cetacean [whale, dolphin and porpoise] Society is a largely scientific gathering; characterised (in my mind anyway) by the presence of large numbers of graduate students from all across the region who are studying marine mammals. The meeting is geared to allow them to make presentations in various ways of their work.

The main conference is preceded by two days (otherwise known as a weekend) of specialist workshops. Some people come purely for these workshops. The final three days are presntations in a great hall and poster presentations. The full agenda and details of workshops can be found online HERE

I joined the workshop looking at how whale images have changed across history on Saturday, contributing a paper looking (mainly) at images in popular natural history books published in the Victorian period and musing on what the significance of these images might have been, more of this later. Then, yesterday, Sunday, I chaired the first meeting of people involved in marine mammal rescue from across Europe and more of this later too.

Introducing Greg Donovan (seated) who spoke about the IWC's work on whale disentanglement.


The ECS meeting was opened today by a key-note contribution from Professor Tim Smith. Tim is now retired but was previously the lead of the US scientific team in the IWC scientific committee for many years. He reflected on three philosophical whales: the whale of legend, the whale of industry and the whale of science. His discourse basically focused on how whaling helped to inform science in various ways.

Presentations today have covered studied on military sonar, population studies and various other things. So – like most other people here I am mainly here to learn and I am also involved in one other thing. This is an attempt to have the ECS agree a statement for the improved protection of the Risso’s dolphin in this region. This is something that was initiated at the ECS meeting last year but the meeting that year did not agree to support the statement but asked for further information which, working with others, I have tried to provide.

Will the conference be supportive this year – stay tuned.

Tim Smith and Scoresby's whale.

Rob Deaville describes the work of the UK's stranding network with the help of Jack Nickolson  (on the right)


Erich Hoyt signs copies of his book on marine protected areas for cetaceans
Vessel strikes  and the IWC
Further advice on vessel strikes

Nick Tregenza (middle) explains his latest work on the banana pinger  to Heidi of CMS and Fabian of WDC

The pinger is intended to alert cetaceans to the danger of nets

Marta and her poster about whale watching and research in Norway
And Professor Chris Parsons





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