9th Marine Mammals of the Holarctic International Conference

9th Marine Mammals of the Holarctic International Conference

14 November 2016

The 9th Marine Mammals of the Holarctic International Conference took place in Astrakhan on 31 October – 5 November. The conference was organised by the Marine Mammal Council (MMC).


Attending the conference were 185 experts from Germany, Iran, Canada, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Norway, the Netherlands, Russia, the US, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Estonia and Japan.


The event featured two plenary meetings, as well as nine sections: True Seals; Health; Development of Marine Mammals Conservation Programmes of Corporate Oil and Gas Groups and Their Contractors  in the Areas of Their Operations; Problems of the Study and Conservation of Marine Mammals; Cetaceans; Behaviour and Acoustics; Steller Sea Lions/Walruses; and Polar Bears.


Participants in the conference delivered 107 reports and statements on biology, monitoring, marine mammal behaviour and conservation. The conference also featured three roundtables on the most pressing issues and meetings of the working groups on the Atlantic and Pacific walruses, as well as a meeting on the conservation of the Caspian seal and other seals inhabiting enclosed water bodies.


As usual, special attention was paid to the search for solutions to the most urgent issues related to marine mammals and their key habitats. Representatives of oil and gas companies delivered reports alongside scientists. Companies operating on the Russian sea shelf spoke about their experiences in monitoring and lowering the impact on marine mammals.


The conference also included a workshop in training experts to minimise the negative impact on marine mammals during the exploration and development of oil and gas deposits in the Russian Arctic. 


An evening was dedicated to screening documentaries about killer whales, white whales, other whales, Steller sea lions, walruses and research on them. The screenings were followed by a discussion that focused on the active development and use of drones to monitor marine mammals.


An exhibition of photos by the Marine Mammals Council also took place as part of the conference.


The conference provided all participants with a unique opportunity to meet, exchange experiences, discuss new joint projects and search for funding.


Expanded excerpts from all reports will be published in the next issue of the journal Marine Mammals of the Holarctic (Astrakhan, 2016).


The conference was supported by the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology and the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, both at the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Interdepartmental Ichthyology Commission research council, the Caspian Fisheries Research Institute, UNDP/GEF and the sponsors: the North Pacific Wildlife Consulting (US), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the National Marine Mammal Laboratory of the Alaska Fisheries Science Centre, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National   Oceanic   and   Atmosphere   Administration (US), the North Pacific Research Board (US), Delfin (Anapa Dolphinarium, Russia), the Morskaya Zvezda Dolphinarium (Russia), the US Embassy in Russia, the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (grant No 16-04-20465-G Project to Organise the 9th Marine Mammals of the Holarctic International Conference).


Gazpromneft was the conference’s general sponsor, with Lukoil as the official sponsor.