Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Quebec Region

Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Quebec Region
18th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals

18th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals


October 12, 2009 13:55 ET

Media Advisory: Opening of the 18th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals

QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Oct. 12, 2009) - The 18th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals of the Society of Marine Mammalogy opened this morning at the Quebec City Conference Centre. Approximately 1500 marine mammal scientists and students from around the world are meeting over the next five days. The meeting provides an opportunity to hear about the latest developments in their field.

Chaired by Mike Hammill, with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the conference was opened by Patrick Vincent, Regional Director of Fisheries Management of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Quebec Region, followed by short presentations from the two scientific program co-chairs Veronique Lesage, also with Fisheries and Oceans and Robert Michaud with the Groupe de recherche et d'education sur les mammiferes marins (GREMM).

This years winner of the Society's Kenneth S. Norris award is Dr Sam Ridgway for his significant research contributions to the field of marine mammalogy. A specialist in neurobiology, Dr Ridgway works with the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program Foundation and at the University of California department of pathology, school of medicine. Through his pioneering work we have learned more about brain function in dolphins and seals and improved our understanding of cardiac function, sleep, their hearing capabilities and modes of communication.

Today's presentations will look at new technologies to study marine mammal habitat, behaviour and embryology, on modes of communication, including their vocalizations. Presentations will also examine marine mammal health and diseases. There will also be a presentation today that examines the feeding behaviour of blue whales in the St. Lawrence estuary.

Tomorrow also promises to be a very interesting day with sessions on marine mammal health, and impacts of underwater noise on marine mammals. Two presentations deal specifically with the St Lawrence. One examines the possible link between the distribution and abundance of blue whales and the crash in groundfish stocks in the northern Gulf. The second examines an unusual mortality of marine mammals as the result of a toxic algal bloom that occurred during the summer of 2008.

Don't miss the special conference bulletins of the Portrait de baleines (in French only). The first edition is already available (

For more information on the conference visit, under Conference.

Daily communiques and special bulletins (also available on will be added to the conference internet site ( during the event. To receive this information by email, submit your request to

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Quebec Region
    Karina Laberge
    Communications officer
    During the Conference (until October 16): 418-732-1420
    After the Conference: 418-775-0769