After spending a month undertaking fieldwork on the wild west coast of Scotland - braving the gale force storms and miserable midgies that were on offer – followed by a few weeks boat-based surveys in the moist Moray Firth, it was time for me to be rewarded with some sunshine, and what better place to go than the island archipelago of the Maldives?!! (I have of course missed out my 7-day sojourn to the Mediterranean but to be honest the weather wasn’t great there either!) And the reason for this trip to “paradise”….In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Sanctuary (declared by the IWC in 1979) a meeting of researchers working on cetaceans in the Indian Ocean region was being convened, providing a crucial opportunity for cetacean researchers from the region to come together to discuss who was doing what, where, how and when and how a plan could be devised for the future conservation and management of the Indian Ocean cetaceans.
Prior to my arrival in this “tropical paradise” I failed to realise, and no-one told me, that it was the south-west monsoon season here! Thunderstorms are prevalent and the rain is an almost daily meteorological feature….yippee!! However saying this, the sun did indeed show its face….the morning the meeting, and thus our confinement within the 4 walls of the conference room began....so we can but hope for continued good weather, some sightings of the locally resident spinner dolphins and a productive meeting!!
For more of an update from the meeting check out the news pages on www.wdcs.org
In the meantime, I’d like to share some memorable moments of the meeting with you…..
1) The claim that The Beatles has possibly been overtaken by Roger Payne and his “Song of the humpback whale”, as the artist who has sold the most records the world over. (Wikipedia however disagree!)
2) Sperm whales are the only whales to have a direct link to outer space – both the USA and Russia use sperm whale oil as a space shuttle lubricant in the robotic arm section!
3) There has been a recent “rediscovery” of a previously “lost” whale; Mesoplodon hotaula.
And to share some memorable comments from the meeting……
Dr Nick Gales comments; “The Indian Ocean Cetacean Symposium was an outstanding success in providing easy access to world class waves….” (Yes...there was a bit of dawn surfing embarked upon by a few delegates.....well...how could one not?!)
Dr Lindsay Porter stated that although the fundamental aim of this meeting was to bring together cetacean researchers currently working in the IOS and to review the current status of cetacean knowledge in the region; “ a secondary but no less important aim of this symposium was to demonstrate that surf boards are an important platform of opportunity for spinner dolphin research.”
And finally when asked for a quote that would sum up the symposium, the co-convener of the IOCS, Charles Anderson stated “Thank God it’s over!” – I have of course used his more “pc” response on the website…….!!
And so, as discussions are still on-going as to the specific “wording” of the Madives/Male/Lankanfinolhu …. Declaration, (and we’re all beginning to lose the will to live, and are in dire need of an end of conference drink)….I shall sign off from my temporary abode in the middle of the Indian Ocean…and pray for sunny skies!