SESSION HIGHLIGHTS AT MYSTIC AQUARIUM’S UPCOMING BELUGA CONFERENCE
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SESSION HIGHLIGHTS AT MYSTIC AQUARIUM’S UPCOMING BELUGA CONFERENCE

Mystic, Conn. (February 28, 2019): As the countdown to the…

Mystic, Conn. (February 28, 2019): As the countdown to the much-anticipated Second International Workshop on Beluga Research and Conservation begins, Mystic Aquarium is unveiling additional conference details. With the overall goal of the conference to connect, collaborate and share traditional knowledge and exploration of advances in aquarium husbandry, field biology and the latest science impacting beluga whales, an esteemed panel of presenters will address major topics over the three-day conference scheduled for March 12-14, 2019.

Session I: Behavior and Ecology – Tuesday, March 12
Session II: Aquarium Animal Husbandry, Science & Education – Wednesday, March 13
Session IV: Conservation and Management – Thursday, March 14

The conference’s first session on Behavior & Ecology will be led by Lori Quakenbush, Alaska Department of Fisher and Game and Veronique Lesage, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and will include eight (8) speakers covering a variety of topics on Behavior & Ecology.

Among the highlights will be a presentation by John J. Burns of Living Resources, Inc. in Fairbanks, AK, titled “Why are Many Beluga Populations so Susceptible to Over-Exploitation and Why do they Not Recover?”

Session II on Aquarium Animal Husbandry, Science and Education will be moderated by Mystic Aquarium’s own Dr. Tracy A. Romano. The session will include nine (9) speakers discussing research and findings from animals in human care relating to vocalization, dive adaptations, immune systems and more. Among the highlights will be a presentation by Dr. Romano herself as she discusses how aquaria can assist in answering the questions about wild populations in her presentation, “The Role of Aquaria in Beluga Research and Conservation.”

Led by Manuel Castellote of the Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, and NOAA along with Ree Brennin of Northernspring, LLC, the Conservation & Management Session will consist of 17 presentations from experts on conservation and management of populations throughout the world. Answering the question of why is each population so important, highlights of the day-long session include presentations on two of the endangered beluga populations-threats on St. Lawrence Estuaries and Management and Regulation for Cook Inlet belugas.

Veronique Lesage of Fisheries and Oceans Canada will present on the Aggravating Effects of Climate Variability on a Small Arctic Populations at the Southern Limits of its Species’ Distribution and Exposed to Multiple Human Stressors: the St. Lawrence Beluga. An overview of Conservation and Management of the Endangered Cook Inlet Population in Alaska will be provided by Verena A. Gill of NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Region and Protection and Conservation Efforts for the Recovery of St. Lawrence.

“For decades, Mystic Aquarium scientists have traveled to the remote reaches of the Arctic, where we have worked alongside wildlife managers and Alaska Native communities to study wild beluga populations and collect critical information about their health. This conference exemplifies our ongoing commitment to bring a global community together to conserve belugas and their Arctic home, and to leverage the capacity of Aquarium’s as leaders in wildlife conservation to bridge science and traditional knowledge,” said Katie Cubina, Senior Vice President, Mission Programs.

It has been over a decade since the great minds in beluga conservation have met specifically to discuss how collaboration can positively impact education and conservation. The First International Workshop on Beluga Whale Research, Husbandry and Management was held in March 2007 by L’Oceanogràfic in Valencia, Spain.

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