MARCH 12-14, 2019
Hosted by Mystic Aquarium | 55 Coogan Boulevard | Mystic, CT 06355 USA
Over 100 of the greatest minds in beluga conservation gathered at Mystic Aquarium to connect, communicate and collaborate; sharing traditional knowledge and exploring advances in aquarium husbandry, field biology and the latest science impacting beluga whales. By sharing expertise and establishing new collaborations, we believe we can better inform conservation and management decisions of belugas in both aquarium and wild settings.
Learn more about the information shared at the 2nd International Workshop on Beluga Whale Research & Conservation by watching a selection of presentation videos.
ABOUT THE WORKSHOP
The 2nd International Workshop on Beluga Whale Research and Conservation was a follow-up to the first beluga workshop held in Valencia, Spain 10 years ago. This conference brought together indigenous peoples, scientists, wildlife managers and policy makers to bridge the gap between traditional knowledge, scientific research, aquarium husbandry and wildlife management with the ultimate goal of developing a cohesive plan to promote beluga research and conservation.
Much progress had 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 who rely on them. In some areas of the Arctic and subarctic, beluga populations are stable while other populations, like Alaska’s Cook Inlet belugas, are critically endangered with no signs of recovery despite its highly protected status.
The 2nd International Workshop allowed us the opportunity to collectively reassess efforts moving forward to determine the best way to leverage current assets and expertise available for beluga research and conservation.
The workshop was hosted by Mystic Aquarium at their new Milne Ocean Science and Conservation Center in Mystic, CT. Home to the largest outdoor beluga whale exhibit in the United States, Mystic Aquarium 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 because thriving beluga populations and 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 2nd International Workshop on Beluga Whale Research and Conservation achieved the following goals:
- Reviewed the conservation threats for all beluga populations and evaluated effectiveness of current measures to mitigate these threats;
- Evaluated advances made since the first workshop and identified remaining challenges;
- Determined best utilization of belugas in aquaria for research to inform wild beluga biology;
- Learned from traditional knowledge for further incorporation into research and management plans;
- Raised public awareness by developing education and outreach programs.
The three-day workshop was organized into six major sessions:
- 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)
- Full day session dedicated to beluga conservation
Session presentation topics addressed:
- Management, policy and more
Polar Bear Level Sponsors:
Walrus Level Sponsors:
Consulate General of Canada in New York
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
North Pacific Research Board
Bearded Seal Level Sponsors:
Marine Mammal Commission
National Marine Mammal Foundation
North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management
Arctic Tern Level Sponsors:
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 HStewart@MysticAquarium.org;