Monday, 28 December 2015

My 2015 SMM conference experience report

Commentary by Sara Tavares

The Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM) held its 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals 1 week ago in San Francisco, California (USA). The theme of the conference was "Bridging the past with the future", focusing on the past and future of marine mammal science in a changing world. This SMM conference was the biggest so far, with 1,536 abstracts submitted and over 2,200 registrants!

There were workshops, oral and poster presentations on a great variety of themes: conservation, distribution and abundance, behaviour, polar ecology, health, population assessment, ecology, climate change, acoustics, physiology, foraging ecology, human dimensions, population biology, genetics, biology, anatomy, evolution and education and communication. All the invited plenary talks were brilliant and very inspiring. Also, during the whole conference week there were a variety of art work in exhibit and special events to join.

SMM San Francisco City Hall birthday celebration (photo by Tomoko Narazaki)

Personally, it was my first SMM conference and I absolutely enjoyed it. It was overwhelming the size of the conference, with so many people attending and so many presentation sessions at the same time. But it was also great opportunity to see friends and colleagues, meet so many interesting scientist and discuss your work with others. We had the chance to choose which presentations to attend from a variety of highly appealing options of topics, species and locations around the world. We got to see fascinating research about orcas in various subjects from acoustics to interactions with fisheries and genetics.

Sara Tavares's oral presentation "The social structure of the Icelandic killer whale (Orcinus orca) population" at the 2015 SMM conference

It was very gratifying to be able to present part of my PhD study on the social structure of the Icelandic orca population. Thank you to the SMM organizers for making this such a great meeting of marine mammal scientistsThis was an amazing and fruitful experience  that I hope I can repeat in 2 years again!