Workshop programme 5th - 6th April 

Here are the themes/titles of proposed workshops (some will be organized together as joined workshops).
Workshops will be organized on Saturday April 5 and Sunday April 6. For some workshops, the number of participant can be limited and/or some workshops can be confidential. Finally, some are free of charges and for other there are registration fees (contact the organizers). For any question concerning workshop please contact the organizers of each workshop and not the conference committee.

5th April Saturday
- Scientific progress on cetaceans and perspectives in the Pelagos Sanctuary
- Career enhancing skills only taught through experience - learn from the veterans, Students' workshop
- Aquatic mammals from latin America
- Exploring technologies for improved data capture from platform of opportunity surveys of marine mammals

6th April Sunday
- Introducing noise into the marine environment: what are the requirements for an impact assessment for marine mammals?
- Communicating marine mammal science to the general public
- New development in pollutant’s studies in marine mammals?
- Euroseals
- Marine mammal rescue
- Marine mammals as indicators of historical changes
- Emerging Infectious Disease in Marine Mammals: Sentinels of Change in the Environment

Schedule, contact person, descriptive summary below:

Scientific progress on cetaceans and perspectives in the Pelagos Sanctuary

Saturday, April 5  (all day) contact Fannie Dubois

Abstract: The Pelagos Sanctuary is an international agreement between France, Italy and the Principality of Monaco signed in 1999 and entered into force in 2002, for conciliating social and economic activities development with marine mammals and habitat protection, in compliance with a management plan. With about 87,500 sq. km, most of which lie in high Seas, the Pelagos Sanctuary is registered as a Special Protected Area of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI).
The aim of this workshop is to implement an assessment of the scientific activities on marine mammals conducted in the Pelagos area since its creation, identify the gaps and perspectives to be developed. Focus will be devoted on the following topics:
- Knowledge of cetacean populations
- Monitoring study methodologies and research technologies
- Impact of human activities
- Identification of critical habitats and key areas
The focus of the workshop is to discuss and propose a series of recommendations on future studies and conservation of species at the population scale. The contributions will be collected in a special issue of a peer review journal, still to be selected.

Students' workshop: Career enhancing skills only taught through experience - learn from the veterans

Saturday April 5 (am and half pm), contact Tobias Rosas Da Costa Oliver                                                                                                                    

Abstract: I have a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career…” - Taken
That's all well and good if you're an assassin, Liam Neeson. As a scientist however, your skills need to be a lot broader. These include the ability to communicate well, to look at the bigger picture, and handy statistical tips. They are, however, not easy to acquire and are not readily taught at schools and universities. They need to be more interactive than just reading information out of a book or through a lecture. They are only gained from experience.
The aim of this year’s student workshop is to give students advice on enhancing these skills throughout their scientific careers – advice that can only be given by the experienced. A collection of experienced scientists will give talks on various topics (see below) and try and answer any questions the students may have.

Presenters include:
Mel Cosentino - Do's and don'ts of social networking
Hanna Nuuttila - Networking at conferences
Andrew Wright - Tips and tricks on Excel
Peter Evans - Scientific writing and publishing
Paddy Pomeroy - Applying for funding

Workshop will start in the am and go on until after lunch. Please e-mail tvrdco@st-andrews to reserve a place on the workshop.

Aquatic mammals from Latin America

Saturday April 5 (pm), contact Paulo Renato Dorneles

Abstract: The workshop (WS) intends to discuss current problems faced by aquatic mammals that inhabit Latin American waters. The perspective of the continent’s economic growth and the consequent use and degradation of its rivers and coastal zones constitutes a matter of concern for the conservation of coastal and riverine aquatic mammals. A large set of construction works is planned for the establishment of hydroelectric power plants, harbours, shipyards and industries on Latin American rivers and coastal bays. Many of these aquatic systems have been suffering from a large series of different types of pressure, as well as they have been going through broad dredging and even submarine demolishing. This anthropogenic pressure results in habitat degradation, physical, acoustic and chemical pollution and their consequences. Some Latin American bays seem to be on the same degradation path once followed by one of the most anthropogenically-disturbed estuaries around the globe, the Guanabara Bay (GB), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Guanabara Bay presents a residual Guiana dolphin (Sotalia guianensis) population assessed to be around 40 individuals only. The situation of the GB dolphins exemplifies the fact that many populations from species that are not officially regarded as threatened are facing extinction, which may hamper the gene flow. Taking this problem into consideration, the situation of riverine aquatic mammals should be highlighted, since hydroelectric dams may hamper the gene flow as well. Other examples of species regarded as common yet being regionally threatened are provided by bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens). T. truncatus presents many local populations in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina being small, isolated and declining due to the effects of ever increasing anthropogenic impacts as pollution, overfishing and bycatch. Concerning the abovementioned pinniped species, the situation of the sharp population decline of the Uruguay and northern Argentina stocks should be emphasised. Small and endemic coastal cetacean species, as franciscana dolphins (Pontoporia blainvillei) and vaquita (Phocoena sinus) are particularly vulnerable to incidental catches in gillnets, and the high levels of mortality are responsible for the critical conservation status of both species. Of particular interest is the La Plata river estuary, one of the most impacted environments in the world, characterized by continental inputs of organic and inorganic contaminants, as well as drugs. Precisely, P. blainvillei inhabits the outer zone of the estuary of the river. Although intentional hunting of marine mammals still exists in a few Latin American nations, most countries have ceased to hunt a few decades ago, using marine mammals in a non-lethal way to increase their socio-economic standards. However, the ever-increasing touristic activities focused on aquatic mammals also raise concern. This is especially important in the north of Brazil, where the artificial feeding of botos (Inia spp.) for tourism seems to be insufficiently controlled. In this context, the WS intends to discuss the status of the “Araguaian boto” (Inia araguaiaensis), the new species of river dolphin from Brazil, as well as the current situation of the most threatened species of Latin America. For accomplishing this last task, the WS intends also to discuss the recovery of mysticeti and sirenian populations after the hunting period, as well as the conservation status of the most endangered mustelid species, such as the giant (Pteronura brasiliensis), the marine (Lontra felina) and the southern river (Lontra provocax) otters.

Exploring technologies for improved data capture from platform of opportunity surveys of marine mammals

Saturday April 5 (pm), contact Rachel Davies

Abstract: In recent years, due to increasing development and decreasing cost, technologies for infield data capture of marine mammals has become widely available to many survey programmes. In particular the use of web and GIS enabled mobile devices, such as phones, tablets and PDAs, can help in improving data collection on platforms of opportunity (ferries, whale watching boats, fisheries vessels etc) where in the past data has suffered from issues relating to miscapture by surveyors or labour intensive transcription from paper records. Therefore, the aim of this workshop organised by the Atlantic Research Coalition (ARC), Europes largest partnership of ferry surveying organisations, is to explore the recent development of these new technologies for wide implementation across networks of opportunistic platforms. This will be achieved through a combination of case studies from invited speakers trialling new approaches and guided discussion of the advantages and limiting factors of such technologies in application at different campaign scales. Outcomes of the workshop included increased efficiency of data collected via these networks and provide direct benefit and implication to policy demands for marine mammal monitoring (e.g. Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Habitats Directive) and other proposed survey programmes (i.e. SCANS III).

Sunday April 6

Introducing noise into the marine environment: what are the requirements for an impact assessment for marine mammals?

Sunday April 6 (all day), contact Peter Evans

Abstract: Noise from anthropogenic sources is a pervasive influence on today’s marine environment. It may come from shipping, smaller craft, seismic surveys, pile driving, or sonar, amongst others. Negative impacts have been demonstrated on a wide range of marine mammals although population consequences are more difficult to ascertain. A fundamental part of any human activity should be an environmental impact assessment, and in many situations these are a requirement under national or international law. And yet the scope and content of such an assessment can vary greatly between and even within countries. The purpose of this workshop is 1) to review contents that are common to all EIAs, such as baseline surveys, overall impact evaluation, and general mitigation methods; 2) more detailed assessments relating to particular activities (pile driving, dredging, seismic, etc); and 3) assessments that apply specifically to particular environmental conditions or regions within Europe.
Those three themes will form the basis for presentations from key speakers followed by general discussion and break out groups. The aim is to bring together marine mammal scientists, environmental bodies, regulators and industry to produce a series of recommendations that can form specific guidelines for application across Europe. The workshop has the support of the CMS regional conservation agreements, ASCOBANS and ACCOBAMS.

Communicating marine mammal science to the general public, Sunday April 6 (all day)

contact Volker Smit

Abstract: After the first workshop at the 27th ECS in Setubal we want to continue to share educational and outreaching experiences of communicating marine mammal science to schools and to the general public. These experiences can be educational programs that support school curricula, pedagogical outreach materials such as books, videos, kits, activities and exhibitions. The workshop is open to researchers, educators, science teachers, and to the media.
This year we want to focus on the theme of the conference: “Marine mammals as sentinels of a changing environment“
The objectives* of the workshop are to:
• share information about sources related to education;
• exchange ideas and knowledge in new science teaching tools;
• exchange experience in adressing the media;
• foster general networking with all stakeholders;
• exchange about the outreach of education
• support ECS to address educational questions
• encourage increased and improved use of social media tools.
*Objectives as determined during the first workshop in Setubal.

New development in pollutant’s studies in marine mammals?

Sunday April 6 (am), contact Liesbeth Weijs

Abstract: It has been shown, numerous times already, that marine mammals are exposed to a wide variety of pollutants and that they also experience the toxic impact of these pollutants on their health and overall well-being. Since pollution is an ever-changing issue, the methods, approaches and techniques to assess or detect pollution must be equally dynamic. The goals of this workshop are to provide overviews of current practices and to highlight gaps in current knowledge. Since some of these gaps can be filled by non-toxicologists, this workshop will be open for everybody.


Sunday April 6 (am), contact Patrick Pomeroy

Abstract: The Euroseals workshop is to follow up from demand over last 18 mo from groups in Holland, Denmark, France, Germany and within the UK to provide a standardised and cohesive network specialising in photo-id of grey and harbour seals. Establishing this linkage is important because of emerging evidence of trans-national movements of seals and the implications of these for management.
It is especially important that data collection, description and comparison protocols are established as early as possible.

Developing professional ethics guidelines for European cetacean researchers

Sunday April 6 (am), contact Chris Parsons

Marine mammal rescue

Sunday April 6 (pm), contact Mark Peter Simmonds

There will be no charge for this workshop.

Abstract: As a follow-up to the Best Practice Workshop on marine mammal rescue at the ECS last year, a further workshop will look at some of the main themes and key issues that were identified, including:
• responding to entanglement (with a particular focus on seals);
• responding to mass strandings; and
• responding appropriately to the demands of the media.

We will also discuss the further development of a European rescue.

Draft Agenda

Introductions and background
Entanglement Issues
Entanglement issues and remedies - overview from the 2013 Entangled Symposium
Seal disentanglement presentation 1
Seal disentanglement presentation 2
Cetacean disentanglement overview
Dealing with cetacean mass stranding events
Mass stranding events – a veterinarian’s view
Managing the media at rescue events –
Building the European Rescue Network
Discussion and questions


Background Reading – please see ECS Workshop report from last year. 


Marine mammals as indicators of historical changes

Sunday April 6 (pm), contact Cristina Brito

Abstract: The aim of the half-day workshop on the use of historical data to study cetaceans (or other marine mammals) is to provide a platform for research that covers both biological and historical disciplines. It is not always simple to cross borders between different scientific fields, yet it can give interesting and new results. We would like to welcome researchers and students interested, both as possible speakers who would like to contribute, but also those who are just interested in attending. For contributions we are looking for historical data to study cetaceans in a very broad sense: e.g. through archeology, iconography, or by using historical information on catches of whales and dolphins. In general, all types of studies that can possibly help us to increase our understanding of the situation of cetaceans today. We also intend to have time for discussions on e.g. methodology as part of the workshop. This approach offers an inter and trans-disciplinary approach to the thematic and may offer long term perspectives on the over time relation of people with cetaceans and of changing marine environments and populations under historical human pressures.

Emerging Infectious Disease in Marine Mammals: Sentinels of Change in the Environment

Sunday April 6 (pm), contact Godfroid Jacques

Abstract: The main objectives of the workshop are:
1. Facilitate the collection and dissemination of Emerging Infectious Disease in marine mammal populations
2. Correlate Health of marine mammals with biological, immunological, pathological, physical, chemical environmental parameters
3. Raise awareness
Emphasis will be put on the following infections, in a health perspective and as indicators of change.
New findings as well as reviews will be presented. A round table will be organized aiming at to drawing recommendations for coordinated efforts and sharing informations in the future.