About Me

My photo
Live for today but work for everyone's tomorrow! Any views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of any organisation/institution I am affiliated with.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Setubal - Finding Erich Hoyt and Epilogue

The beautiful fruit market of Setubal

The ECS closed with a dinner and dancing yesterday evening and many scientists forgot to go to bed.

Here I will just add a few words to give some more background to the ECS award and its awarding: When Peter Evans spoke yesterday about Mandy McMath, after whom the ECS conservation award has now been named, he spoke of her great and highly supportive influence over many of us.

Later, after the conference had closed, someone commented to me that sometimes people were more influential after their deaths, suggesting that this might be the case for Mandy.  I guess this may reflect the fact that not everyone in the marine mammal world, or those gathered at the ECS, knew her. So, for those that did not here is a link to something I wrote for the WDCS website to mark her passing: HERE. This also links to a little bit of film where you can also see her.

Whilst Peter’s speech brought many tears from many of her friends, I am sure she would not have wanted people to be sad on her account and that she would have been very pleased with the choice of Erich Hoyt as the first person to receive the award now named after her.

One of the more amusing (and nerve-wracking) elements to the awards ceremony was the need to track Erich Hoyt and make sure that he was in the conference chamber for the ceremony.

Late in the morning it was noticed that he was missing. He had obviously quietly left the room and the word quickly went around that we had lost him. The fear was that he might have left for the afternoon to catch up on urgent emails, improve a manuscript with a deadline, gone jogging or something else. Soon it became clear that he was nowhere in the conference centre and a search team composed of the WDC delegates, the ECS conservation award committee and others started to spread out from the conference centre in an attempt to find it. It was agreed that he should be told (if we could contact him) that the keynote speakers (of which he was one of three) were required to be at the closing ceremony where they would be thanked. Only Mike Tetley proved to have Erich's  mobile number, so this message was sent via him.

After half an hour or so Erich was located, by the president of the ECS, in a little café on the far side of main road outside the conference centre. He was having lunch with some of his Russian colleagues, unaware of the concern he was generating. The message was delivered that he was needed in the closing conference sesson and, from here on in, a team carefully monitored his movements.

Erich returned to the conference hall after the AGM had concluded but then, come the afternoon coffee break, he shot outside again. At this point I was the person monitoring his movements and using all the stealth that I posses (i.e. not very much) followed him discretely through the crowd of smokers and coffee addicts taking the air. He took shelter in a window alcove on the further corner of the building chatting to a colleague but this was also a perch from where he could easily launch himself away from the centre. Fortunately he didn’t, and as the hour drew near for the awards ceremony. I watched him return to the hall and descend down stairs into the gentleman’s toilet … from which he did not return. I had lost him!

One of the Erich monitoring team went to check the toilet. He was not there. Mild panic now pervaded the group.

But then he was again discovered – having returned from the washroom via a different set of stairs – getting a coffee in a corner of the conference centre. Mike was now left to keep an eye on him and I went to the front of the conference hall to sit and wait for the moment to give the speech. I was also awaiting a signal that Erich was safely in the chamber.

I did not get this. Instead, Erich – using some of that special intuitive magic of his - simply wandered into the hall and then came and sat next to me.

(There were a couple of fall-backs if we had lost him for a third time: firstly I would have filled-in for five minutes or so with an ‘amusing’ lecture on ‘beards’ and, secondly, if he was still missing after this, we would have announced the award at the conference and actually given it to him at the dinner and dance scheduled for the evening.)

Andrew in action.
Anyway, it was all concluded safely in the end and Mandy and Erich were duly honoured.

I forgot to mention yesterday that Dr Andrew Wright was given the award for the best student presentation.

And, finally, I promised some days ago to show an example of the monstrous cetaceans of Victorian books, so here is one:

This is an illustration from 'Mammalia: their various forms and habits', adapted from the text of Louis Figuier by E. Percival Wright and published in 1892 by Cassell and Company.

The caption reads 'Dolphins pursuing a boat' and the men on board look like they have pikes to ward off these monsters. Here is a close up of the head:

Would these illustrations in this popular book have helped colour the view of people living in late Victorian Britain towards these animals? It certainly seems likely. Illustrations at this time may have been based on earlier inaccurate drawings of sea monsters and/or studies of decomposed bodies.

Compare this with the very recent images of dolphins in this new fold-out guide published by the Field Studies Council and produced by the excellent natural history illustrator, Lucy Molleson, who was able to base her pictures on many sources, including her own field work on dolphins.

Cover of 8 page field guide available from FSC

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Setubal - Speeches 2 - Erich Hoyt wins the Conservation Award REV

Today it was my very great privilege to describe to the ECS why Erich Hoyt was chosen
Erich Hoyt
for the ECS Conservation Award.

Erich did not know this was coming and great care had to be taken (and some subtefuge used) to ensure that he was in the conference theatre for the closing ceremony when the award was given. 

First Peter Evans explained the that the award would now be named after Mandy McMath - the wonderful lady who influenced so many of our careers and who sadly died long before her time last year. 

Then I said the following:

There is among us here today a quiet, modest and altogether rather unassuming person who is also somehow simply by their presence able to add a certain positive quality to any meeting. This person brings a quality of reflective calmness, deep thoughtfulness and some even deeper philosophy.

Someone recently compared a conversation with this person to being gently ‘licked behind the ear’. My feeling is that such erotic fantasies are generally best kept to yourself but my damp-eared friend had a point, and many of us have benefitted from this year’s award recipient’s gentle wit and great wisdom. A seemingly simple conversation with this person can often help you make better sense of a mad world and even make you feel a lot better about yourself. (If we could bottle some of the magic that this person oozes, we would probably be able to sell it to great profit in health shops all around the world.) 

When Mandy McMath helped to establish this award she was very keen that it should recognise not only a significant contribution to conservation but that this should incorporate education and outreach. There are few who can compete with the outreach achieved by the recipient of this year’s award.

He occupies a unique niche as a teacher who is able to speak to a global audience and he effortlessly rides the electronic-superhighway blogging and twittering and pumping out ebooks as he goes.  He is a profoundly successful translator of science into both wonderful prose and concrete conservation action; he is also a scientific practitioner himself; and a champion of animals both very large and surprisingly small.  

As many of you know, to be successful in the ecological sphere it is helpful to be bearded (something that you ladies and many of you statisticians have been failing at for sometime), and preferably bespectacled and he (and there is a clue) meets this essential requirements too.

In a moment I am going to say his name for those of you who do not recognise him yet; but please hold the applause (but please also be coiled like springs, ready to explode when I conclude). I need to tell you a little more and I also need to relay one special message.
So, I am speaking of yesterday’s key note speaker - Erich Hoyt –

[there is an outbreak of warm applause at this point led by the council members [on the stage] and Mark asks again for quiet]

….a US/Canadian refugee who escaped some years ago across the Atlantic following his heart to make his home in that remote and frozen northern frontier zone of the United Kingdon, sometimes known as Scotland. He has, in fact, worked in many countries (he noted fifty yesterday) and as he told us yesterday and he recently helped to open up cetacean research in the Russian Far East through the FEROP project.

There is not enough time to describe all his other achievements but here are a few:
Erich actually wrote the first book on whale watching published in 1984– ‘The Whale Watcher’s Handbook’ – produced well ahead of this activity being widespread and popular - and has since championed the concept of responsible whale watching; his is actually the face that launched more than a thousand ships!

Erich has also produced the definitive text on Marine Protected Areas for cetaceans – and in fact he has done this twice. The second volume being so hugely expanded that many shelves have collapsed under its intellectual weight and many Easy jet flights have been pleased to charge excess baggage for it.

On your selves many of you will also find a book that may well have brought whales into your lives as it has for many people: Orca- A Whale Called Killer.

Erich’s writing  has fans in very high places and the famous ethnologist and Nobel Laureat, Niko Tinbergen, referred to a Orca- A Whale Called Killer as “One of those rare, genuine books about a wild animal.”

And this book is still in print three decades after it was first published – making it almost older than Erich.

He also wrote
·                    Creatures of the Deep
·                    The Earth Dwellers
·                    Sharks and Whales
·                    Seasons of the Whale

And equally importantly Erich has several Children’s books to his name. The latest of these Weird Sea Creatures in now avalable in all good book shops and of course via amazon.com.

Despite all this activity he has almost single-handedly reversed the population decline in Scotland and somehow found time to produce four offspring of his own.

He has also ‘given birth’ to some 500 papers, article and scientific reports.

It is a truly remarkable output.

I am fortunate enough to know Erich well enough to know that what he has done is far from effortless. Beneath the maple syrup is a steely intellect and his inspirational writing and speaking only results from the painstaking care and many revision of texts.

He is not new to awards – his writing skills have been recognised by many. His publisher proudly notes that he has 15 magazine and book awards  to his name including the Outstanding Book of the Year Award from the American Society of Journalists & Authors.

However, Erich this is an award from your peers in the conservation sphere and thus far more important; this Erich is the ‘Mandy’.

Erich is also a great facilitator of key collaborations – frequently bringing together stakeholders and sparring NGOs and uniting them with common purposes to great effect (although I doubt even he would claim responsibility for the recent highly productive union between Tethys and WDC, that some of you may have noticed***).

[There is a slight pause at this point and some giggling.]

I have yet to find anyone who says an ill word about Erich and in the intensely political sphere of cetacean conservation this too is remarkable. (So maybe we can get him drunk tonight and see if we can get him to upset someone.)

Erich is the Senior Ressearch Fellow at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation [Society]and this excellent organisation is guided by another fine and gentle-man in the form of its CEO, Chris Butler-Stroud, who is unable to be here but asked me to relay the following on his behalf:

"Erich represents the epitome of conservation science. As a scientist he is meticulous and thorough, not only does he publish his research and analysis, but is always striving to translate his work into practical and effective conservation policy.

He has acted as a mentor to a huge number of students and colleagues and has inspired a whole generation of conservationists to step up and defend cetaceans and the marine environment.

Today, Erich is a continuing inspiration to his WDC colleagues and we all wish to pass on our best wishes and congratulations"

And I would personally add that Erich’s name is now recognised as a stamp of quality on any paper, report or book. (So no pressure there Erich!)

So, ladies and gentlemen – are you poised?

Please make a huge noise to salute a man who (to quote him back at him) ‘thinks big, cleverly and out of the box’; someone who whether you know it or not will have affected your life; a writer born of other writers; the renown and respected author, researcher and emeritus-campaigner, the eponymous polymath, accidental therapist, cetacean champion and ant-friend, now call to the stage the recipient of the 2013 ECS Mandy McMath, Conservation award, my suitably bearded and bespectacled friend:  

[A very long standing ovation followed.]

Erich then accepted the award from Peter Evans, last year’s recipient, and gently and graciously thanked everyone.

Peter Evans passes the award to Erich (thanks to Pine for photo)

Erich and some fans

Erich in action.
***That WDC-Tethys collaboration - Nino of Tethys and Pine of WDC (and 'bump')

Setubal - Wednesday

Today, among other things, we heard about Risso’s dolphins stealing squid from the fisheries around the Azores (and efforts to try to persuade them not to do this); efforts to study the effects of seismic surveys on humpback whales in Australia;  the redoubtable Chris Parsons talked about conflicts at the IWC; Fiona Reid described her investigations into the Iberian Peninsula harbour porpoise; and then, finally, in this series of longer presentations, Jonas Teilmann, spoke about the impacts of windfarns. In this he also noted the scale of farms that would actually be required to meet energy needs and replace fossil fuels: he estimated that an area of 4 million km squared might be needed to meet just 25% of the planet’s needs at this point. This is equivalent to half the area of the USA!

Chris Parsons in full flood
and in close up.

The key note speaker today, Len Thomas, told ‘hippie’ researchers to get their statistics sorted out before they start their field studies and bemoaned the lack of statisticians in the field whilst also trying to recruit people to statistical education.

There were 14 workshops at the weekend and 13 of them reported back to the ECS plenary this morning. One - the SAMBAH workshop - was closed.

Sarah Dolman reported on the white-sided dolphin workshop; Toby Oliver reported on the student workshop ‘ so you want to be a marine biologist’; Tiago Marques talked about the passive acoustic data workshop which attracted 54 participants (about 10% of the ECS attendees); Ines Carvalho reported on the bottlenose dolphin workshop which included consideration of the action plan for the population in the Sado Estuary (near to where we are meeting) and also a presentation from Paul Jepson which linked the disappearance of bottlenose dolphins and orcas around Europe to chemical pollution; Dillon Walker was not here to talk about using geodesign to identify ocean areas for conservation (so someone else did it for him) – a Global Outreach Programme to Identify Areas of Concern for Cetaceans will be launched on June 1st.

Cristina Britta spoke about the workshop on scientific illustration that met on Saturday (please see earlier blog entry) and she refers to the small but very enthusiastic group that gathered!  

Peter Evans reported on the joint ACCOBAMS-ACOBANS workshop on Cetacean Population Structure. The group defined their management unit then considered what tools might be used to investigate these units and then they looked at particular species. Killer whales in the Gibraltar Strait and Risso’s dolphins throughout the Mediterranean were identified (along with some other species) as requiring particular attention.

The second joint ACCOBAMS-ASCOBANS workshop this year (which Peter Evans also reported on) looked at Spatial Management of cetaceans (attended by almost 100 people). In this workshop, various impacts were also considered. Chris Clark, for example, highlighted that we need to think about noise on an appropriate scale and highlighted that ship noise has a widespread impact for many species.  Conclusions included that much of the current legislation lacks teeth; better communications is needed between all stakeholders

Communicating marine mammal science to the general public was the topic of another workshop. This included looking at the role of museums and art projects. One of their conclusions was that ‘education should also address the understanding of the underlying human behaviour that leads to threats [to cetaceans]… ‘.

There was also a workshop about using Pamguard – an acoustic monitoring device and another on morbilliviruses in marine mammals.

Then there was the workshop on rescue best practise. Its conclusions are shown below and were presented by Sarah Dolman.

Next, Marta Plata reported on the large scale sperm whale research workshop.. 

Most participants then escaped to lunch and the AGM rolled through its agenda, noting among other things that the ECS has 423 members – roughly 50/50 students and others; and that the UK, Germany and Portugal are the homes of most participants.

The ECS Council or 'Last Supper.'
The AGM eventualy gets to the Risso's resolution.

Andrew Wright introduced it and the text was beamed up onto the big screen at the front of the room

Just to remind you, the operative sections says the following:

'The ECS therefore,
Calls for urgent attention to be paid to the conservation of this species, particularly the establishment of protected areas and other appropriate measures for this species and recommends its inclusion on Annex II of the Habitats Directive.'

Andrew asked if anyone objected - 'raise your hands if you do' he encouraged - and no one did. And the resolution is thus passed by consensus and - noted ECS President, Thierry P. Jauniaux, the resolution will shortly be published on the ECS workshop.

[Many thanks to everyone who helped to get this resolution in place over the last few months and here at the conference.] 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Setubal - Risso's dolphin pinned to the wall

The text of the Risso's dolphin resolution has now been pinned to the wall outside the main ECS conference chamber: see below.

Previously a far longer document was circulated to the members of the ECS Scientific Committee and further to their comments this one pager has been produced for the ECS membership to view.

This is the important operative part.

This will be discussed tomorrow at the ECS AGM. 

Also coming up tomorrow will be the ECS Conservation Award. 

It will be an interesting day. 

Setubal - Tuesday

Here Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho talks about the critically endangered vaquita

Erich Hoyt makes his key-note presentation on Marine Protected Areas

And Erich makes a plea for the New Zealand dolphin along the way.

Today we heard about a rich range of things including how gray whale calves return to their birthing grounds; about the small remaining blue whale population in the northeast Atlantic (only about 1000 animals are known over a very wide area); and we connected live (thanks to Michel Andre) to sperm whales clicking in the Ligurian Sea part of the Mediterranean. Per Berrgren talked about his work in Zanzibar where dolphin killing has given way to dolphin watching. Then we heard about the population statuses and genetics of various species including the criticially endangered monk seals, NE Atlantic pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins (where genetics support separate inshore and offshore populations).

Later we heard about allocare in pilot whales (allocare is the care of offspring other than your own) and the formal presentations for the day finished with Andrew Wright telling us of his quest to find sleep in porpoises. All mammals are believed to sleep and Andrew's PhD looked into this by examining diving patterns.

Setubal - Speeches 1 - Introducing the Welfare Workshop

Following below is the speech that I gave in the opening of the workshop on marine mammal rescue.

This was meant to help set the scene for the presentations and discussion to follow. It was also meant to be a little provocative. [I have added a few extra words and comments in square brackets to help it make better sense.]

I welcome comment and am happy to discuss the issues raised here.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Good morning and welcome.

The issue of marine animal rescue sits within a historical spectrum of often diverse and sometimes starkly contrasting  philosophies and approaches.

As an issue, it has been far from static over time (even during very recent history) and attitudes and approaches to stricken marine animals still vary greatly today between different cultures.

In this part of the world (by which I mean Europe) a stranded whale would at different times have been seen as
  • a monster as shown by this ancient Dutch engraving with the people running away [from a mass stranding event of sperm whales in 1577], or a
  • godsend – providing food to communities that might not otherwise have survived.

The light and lubrication of the industrial ages was provided by ‘mining’ whales and other marine mammals. The developing middle classes were only able to venture increasingly safely out in the dark evenings and read books into the night (about, amongst other things, whales) because whale oil was burning in their lamps and lubricating their steam-driven book presses.

Here a ‘charming’ illustration from a very popular book of this time about the romance of whale hunting [the illustration showed a rather graphic whale hunt and would have been included to help make the book more attractive.]

So, our culture is built on what we now know to be the cruel deaths of tens of thousands of whales; the deaths of animals that we now regard as sentient and who were not just likely to experience their own pain, but also that of their offspring and the rest of their families, who were often slaughtered around them. (Are there analogies with how one invading human culture treated another?)

The whales were  perhaps fortunate in the short term what we discovered how to exploit fossil fuels – whether they and the rest of the planet will remain fortunate in the face of addiction to petrochemicals remains to be seen.

Animals cannot go to court to legislate for their welfare or complain about their treatment. They don’t yet have treaties established to protect their rights, but cetaceans in Europe are at least among the most highly protected of animals… in theory. And pinnipeds perhaps for their perceived piscivorous ‘sins’ sit on a less protected pedestal.

A whale found lying on the shore – or seen close inshore in unusual circumstances - still provokes strong emotions. The burgeoning human population now typically calls for rescue – sometimes even when no rescue may be needed.  An inshore whale may appear ‘unusual’ but also may be perfectly fine. Our perspectives and experience today has been shaped by the actions of our ancestors and the removal of near-shore sub-populations of some whales (and in one case at least, the loss of a whole species – the right whale) leading to the expectation that whales should not be seen close to shore and the associated perception that dolphins are best found in Florida (perhaps in dolphinaria).

Hence, managing public understanding and expectation has become an important consideration.

And this of course is mediated entirely via the sometimes manipulative lens of the media. The media has its own urgent needs. It is a large and voracious animal in its own right: it needs fresh news;  which increasingly needs to be novel news and for this to be provided in brief mouthfuls; it likes original angles (people rescue dolphin, is far less interesting than dolphins rescue person; or - better yet - dolphins attack person); and increasingly it leaves no time for lengthy prevarications about the possibly benefits or dis-benefits of certain rescue approaches – no – we must swiftly show what is happening with the minimum interpretation and sometimes with the reporter’s own views overlain.

This is the age of the news-bite, as with the ‘Thames Whale’ an event when millions of people [worldwide] were able view a high profile rescue attempt [via BBC and Skye Digital Channels, live.

No pressure there then Paul. [A reference to Paul Jepson, who was in the audience, and who was the vet in charge of this animal as it progressed on a barge along the Thames towards the North Sea with the eyes of the world on it/him]

The media’s favourite delicacy is controversy. This it is fed for example by disputes between nations (as currently in the Korean Peninsula, where news people are palpably delighted to have so much to talk about; wheeling one pundit after another into sight to comment) or disputes between ‘experts’. Hence recue efforts are subjected to scrutiny as never before. Perhaps the take-home message should be ‘if you cannot defend what you are doing/or not doing, don’t do it’!

A popular line from some commenting on rescues relates to the philosophy of non-intervention and specifically that what is natural and nature should be allowed to take its course.

From the strandings data collected around the UK it is clear that many animals coming ashore are coming to the end of their lives. It is also clear from data from around the world that many mass strandings results from navigational errors. Such navigational errors have been occurring long before we filled the oceans with loud noise, our industrial scale fishing activities and thousands of tonnes of lost nets and other plastic crap (further benefits of fossil fuel). There is [really] no dispute that some of the stranding events that we as a community of people have to respond to are the result of natural events.

My personal feeling is, whether or not a stricken animal is the result of a human activity or not, once we have become aware of it, we have a responsibility to act – including, potentially, not intervening. It is possible that my view is coloured by the now old-fashioned Christian ethic of humans having dominion over other animals (although there is even a potential conflict in even this simple statement as I doubt the biblical sources viewed humans as animals).

I subscribe to the notion that being compassionate is part of what qualifies us as human and that compassion can be expressed for all living things.

(But that is more than enough about me – fascinating though I am.)

There is a possible clash of philosophies between conservation and animal welfare. Politically ‘conservation’ often appears to be the stronger; and conservation science the better recognised, although I am sure many could argue (and I would agree) that welfare science is a perfectly well-formed and important academic topic. It is not coincidental to this that we are meeting in the halls of the ‘European Cetacean Society’ with its focus on conservation. But these two things do come together. For example, the introduction of a diseased individual back into the sea may have both welfare and conservation consequences if its presence threatens [wild] population with infection.

Often stranding responses become as much about managing the various human parties involved as it does about responding to the marine animal in extremes  In the UK we have faced disputes between groups about jurisdictions and approaches, we have attempted public outreach to stop untrained people harming animals by behaving towards them in a well-meaning but poorly informed manner and we have evolved our approaches over time as knowledge had improved.

Hundreds of years ago lost whales coming up the Thames were slaughtered for their meat; latter London was one of the great whaling ports. In 2006, thousands lined the banks of the river to watch this rescue attempt [and cheer them on]. 

But times change Now [based on the latest veterinary understanding that such an animal would have been fatally wounded by the stranding process], we [the UK rescue network] would probably be trying to euthanize such an individual as swiftly as possible [to end its suffering…. Now we are in discussion with the military about how to hasten the deaths of some whales under certain circumstances using shaped explosive charges… all things which are difficult – but not, I hope, impossible - to explain to a caring British public.

So I have pointed to some issues and now I can rest and you can resolve them.

[and here I sit down]

Monday, 8 April 2013

Setubal - Shaping the Whale

What do whales look like?

The talks about whale imaging through the ages from Saturday's workshop will eventually be published in a special ECS edition. So we cannot spoil this by saying too much here.

However, below  are a few pictures from a Victorian school book (published in 1851) and showing what kids at that time would have thought whales (and other animals) looked like.

Some images of whales and dolphins in the highly illustrated books of the time made them look quite demonic sand one typical mistake was that these monstrous animals would be blowing water out of their blow holes in mighty fountains. This is anatomically impossible for them to do and the 'blow' of whales is actually their hot breath condensing in the cold air.

By the early 1900s, illustrations of whales in the popular natural history books of the day had become much more accurate but, for hundreds of years, many people must have viewed them as spouting monsters. This may have made their treatment more acceptable to the public.[I will try to add one of these more demonic images here later.]

And, even in the 2006 Disney film, 'Finding Nemo', (which has apparently sold 40 million DVD copies), we still encounter a whale that spouts water from its blowhole when it expels the fishy heroes Dory and Marlin, which it has swallowed, through it and high into the air!

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

Saturday, 6 April 2013

The Graffiti of Setubal

This colorful piece is beautifully framed by the cul-de-sac- it sits  in.

Setubal hosts a lot of these large rounded words

And again
And again (apologies if any of this is rude)

For some unknown reason the town seems blessed with some fine street art. Maybe this is because of the old derelict buildings that pepper the town and which provide good canvasses for the art. Canvasses where the art is unlikely to be painted over, except by other street artists. I also very much appreciate the use of English in some images like the one immediately below - perhaps this is fashionable or maybe the artists are visiting Brits. Anyway, here are some examples.

Nice! (And always a good idea!)
A more traditional approach to street art - and perhaps these traditional blue tiles help explain the ongoing interest in adorning the walls here. 

These decorated electricity terminals are a feature - I wonder if they are sponsored.

I especially like the little character here to the left of the door  - see below

I am fascinated  by this one. Not only it it huge but it features the local marine life...

Setubal even has dolphins on its drain covers