For the last forty years, every two years, marine mammal scientists and educators and other interested parties from around the world get together the Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals. There are specialized training workshops, discussion groups, a video night along with the regular oral presentations and poster presentations on everything from pollution to captivity.
Ocean Alliance has attended and presented at almost every conference. This year OA is represented by our President and founder Dr. Roger Payne. While Roger is not giving any formal presentations he is attending a number of different workshops and is being interviewed by New Zealand media on his opinions regarding a number of different marine mammal controversies.
It is interesting that this year’s conference is being held in New Zealand because there is considerable controversy in NZ right now over the endangered Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins. Iain Kerr thinks the vast number of threats to whales has overwhelmed and disillusioned the public:
“When I started studying whales 20 years ago the public was certainly impassioned about the ‘Save the Whales’ movement — there was really only one extinction threat and that was commercial whaling. It seems to me that as the threats to whales have become more diversified people seem to have lost interest in saving whales.
Whales now are more endangered than they have ever been in the last twenty years. Threats include pollution, climate change, entanglement in fishing gear, ship strikes and seismic disruptions.
Northern right whales off a major city in the U.S. (Boston) are in danger of being wiped out, and the Maui’s dolphin, native to the host country of the Marine Mammal Conference is nearly wiped out.”
Roger Payne spoke with the New Zealand Herald back in January about the seemingly imminent extinction of the Maui’s dolphin:
“Your Government has world-class research results available to it that show it needs to protect these beautiful animals. There is no rational excuse for hesitating. If we lose these species then no-one will forget.
“There is no more enduring mistake this country could make than to allow the extinction of Hector’s and Maui dolphins,” warns Payne.
“Nothing is harder to forgive than extinction. No country has yet outlasted the perpetual censure for having made that mistake.”
Read the full article here.