28th Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society

This year’s ECS conference was held in Belgium where a key area of interest was on the impact of anthropogenic noise in the marine environment. This topic attracted many MMOs to attend the conference. Prior to the conference a series of workshops of specialized subjects were also held. Two of these workshops were of particular interest to the MMOA, including a full day’s workshop on the impact of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals and a workshop on conservation issues for marine mammals in South America.

The aim of the anthropogenic noise workshop was to develop accurate and scientific based advice for regulators. During the workshop, specialists like Peter Tyack, Roger Gentry, Michel Andre and Peter Evans presented some of their work, which resulted in an interesting debate on (Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS) and Permanent Threshold Shift (PTS) levels as they become increasingly species dependent.  Overall, many issues worth considering were raised –final results of the discussions will be published in the near future.

Another workshop concerned conservation issues for marine mammals of South America, which was co-organised by one of our committee members Els Vermeulen. The workshop attracted various researchers from Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. The workshop’s presentations led to an interesting discussion on the overall conservation status of species such as the bottlenose dolphin, the Guiana dolphin, the Fransiscana dolphin and the Vaquita, amongst others. Conservation issues like bycatch, pollution and habitat destruction were discussed with an overall consensus that priorities for conservation may have to be redirected based on increasingly available new science and understandings of the species concerned. Results of this workshop will also be published in due course.

After the two days of workshops, the actual conference began. There were many presentations, short talks and hours of talking and networking with friends and colleagues. Our committee member Els Vermeulen was awarded best short speaker in the ECS for her talk on her work on bottlenose dolphins in Argentina, and the conference was closed with a very fun dinner and dance.

Next year the conference will be in Malta and it would be great to have a stronger presence and meet members at such venues in the future.