2nd International Workshop on Beluga Whale Research & Conservation

March 12-14, 2019

Hosted by Mystic Aquarium – 55 Coogan Boulevard – Mystic, CT 06355 USA

Join us to connect, communicate and collaborate as we share traditional knowledge and explore advances in aquarium husbandry, field biology and the latest science impacting beluga whales. By sharing our expertise and establishing new collaborations, we hope to better inform conservation and management decisions of belugas in both aquarium and wild settings.

About the Workshop

The 2nd International Workshop on Beluga Whale Research and Conservation is a follow-up to the first beluga workshop held in Valencia, Spain 10 years ago. This conference will bring together indigenous peoples, scientists, wildlife managers and policy makers to bridge the gap between traditional knowledge, scientific research, aquarium husbandry and wildlife management. The ultimate goal is to develop a cohesive plan to promote beluga research and conservation.

Much progress has been made since the first workshop, including integration of beluga tagging and health assessment studies, new migratory information on several populations, utilization of aquarium whales to answer questions about noise impacts on whale hearing and physiology, a science-based cultural and educational exchange program for indigenous youth and more.  Despite this progress, environmental and anthropogenic concerns still threaten belugas and their habitat as well as the people that rely on them. Beluga populations in some areas of the Arctic and subarctic are stable while other populations, like Alaska’s Cook Inlet belugas, are critically endangered with no signs of recovery despite its highly protected status. It is time to reassess efforts moving forward to determine the best way to leverage current assets and expertise available for beluga research and conservation.

The workshop is being hosted by Mystic Aquarium at the brand new Milne Ocean Science and Conservation Center in Mystic, CT. Mystic Aquarium is home to the largest outdoor beluga whale exhibit in the United States and has a team of scientists and educators dedicated to beluga research and conservation efforts.

More than ever, connections, communication, awareness and collaborations are needed to mitigate threats to belugas. We must prevent habitat degradation, which could lead to the extinction of some populations, and ensure that belugas and their ecosystems thrive.  Importantly, thriving beluga populations and their ecosystems will ensure food security (i.e. nutrition, culture, tradition, economics, social ties) for indigenous peoples.

With numerous aquaria around the world caring for beluga whales and five polar countries managing beluga populations, there is a need to share the latest concerns, research, husbandry and management practices to enhance beluga conservation. The goals of the conference are as follows:

  • Review the conservation threats for all beluga populations and evaluate effectiveness of current measures to mitigate these threats;
  • Evaluate advances made since the first workshop and identify remaining challenges;
  • Determine best utilization of belugas in aquaria for research to inform wild beluga biology;
  • Learn from traditional knowledge for further incorporation into research and management plans;
  • Raise public awareness by developing education and outreach programs.


The three-day workshop will be organized into six (6) major sessions:
• Plenary
• Beluga behavior and ecology
• Aquarium husbandry, science and education
• Traditional knowledge (including an evening special movie and presentation by director, writer and producer John Houston)
• Posters
• Full day session dedicated to beluga conservation

Session presentation topics will address:
• Genetics
• Reproduction
• Health
• Acoustics
• Management, policy and more

Beluga Conference Schedule


Workshop registration includes:
Admission to all presentations
Coffee breaks
Icebreaker opening event
Poster reception
Movie presentation & discussion
Aquarium access
Local discounts

*Add on: Tickets for the closing dinner can be added to all registrations for an additional fee.

If in the event you need to cancel please email [email protected] for our cancellation policy.

Registration - Use Password "BelugaConf" To Access »

Call for Abstracts

Kela with trainer

The Second International Workshop on Beluga Research and Conservation is accepting abstract submissions for oral and poster presentations.

Submissions will be accepted online through October 20, 2018.

Submitted abstracts should adhere to abstract guidelines and must be submitted by the deadline. Submissions received after the deadline will not be considered. Oral presentations will be limited to 12-15 minutes in order to encourage questions and facilitate discussion. Due to limited time for oral presentations, some abstracts may be re-assigned as posters. Abstracts with clear ties to beluga conservation will be prioritized.

Key Dates for Beluga Workshop

Abstracts Due: Saturday, October 20, 2018
Notification of Abstract Selection: Friday, December 28, 2018
Edited and Finalized Abstracts Due: Friday, January 4, 2019
Early Registration Closes: Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Final Program Announced: Friday, February 15, 2019

Pre and Post Workshop Tours

Monday, March 11, 2019 – 10:00am-6:30pm –New Bedford Whaling Museum admission and guided tour and stop at Moby Dick Brewing Co. – $75/person

Through museum admission and a guided tour you’ll discover the underwater world of whales, the dramatic story of whaling and its impact, and the maritime history of Southcoast Massachusetts at the New Bedford Whaling Museum – located in the heart of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. You will marvel at five massive whale skeletons, the world’s largest ship model (Lagoda), and America’s longest painting. We’ll conclude the trip with a short walk to Moby Dick Brewing Co. to taste their local ales and lager. Ticket includes transportation, museum admission, guided tour and drink ticket.

Registration - Use Password "BelugaConf" To Access »

Friday, March 15, 2019 – 10:00am – Mystic Seaport Museum admission and guided tour – $39/person

Mystic Seaport Museum is the nation’s leading maritime museum. The Museum’s grounds cover 19 acres on the Mystic River in Mystic, CT and include a recreated New England coastal village, a working shipyard, formal exhibit halls, and state-of-the-art artifact storage facilities. The Museum is home to more than 500 historic watercraft, including four National Historic Landmark vessels, most notably the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan, America’s oldest commercial ship still in existence. Ticket includes museum admission and guided tour of the Charles W. Morgan whaleship.

Registration - Use Password "BelugaConf" To Access »


Beluga Level:
Mystic Aquarium

Polar Bear Level Sponsors:
Bulrush Foundation

Walrus Level Sponsors:
American Humane
Consulate General of Canada in New York
Fatima Matos
Hans Rollema
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
North Pacific Research Board
Oak Foundation

Bearded Seal Level Sponsors:
Georgia Aquarium
Marine Mammal Commission
National Marine Mammal Foundation
North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management
Shedd Aquarium

Arctic Tern Level Sponsors:
Hilcorp Inc.
InCord, Ltd.
National Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO)
The Perry Family

Arctic Char Level Sponsors:
Alaska Sea Life Center
Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums
Society of Marine Mammology

Contact Hannah Stewart at [email protected].
(PH) 860.572.5955, ext. 476