Happy 2013!! Since field season ended all the kit has been cleaned and packed away, and the computers are happily crunching away at our data. We however have been very busy spreading the word about our research at a number of conferences in the area.
Early in January, Sam, Amy and Sean attended the Centre for Behaviour and Evolution (CBE) conference in Newcastle. This conference was a great chance for us to meet up with colleagues, discuss our work and hear about other behavioural studies in the area. Topics ranged from discussions of the effects of pesticides on honey bee behaviour to cultural transmission in chimpanzees. Amy gave a talk about the behaviours male grey seals use during aggression and Sam presented a poster describing the work he plans to do with all his hard-earned data. Overall it was a great day!
This past weekend, the conference tour continued with Sam and Amy trekking up to Oban, Scotland for the UK Student Chapter of the Marine Mammal Society conference. This conference is always a great opportunity for early graduate students as well as undergraduates. It gives us a chance to catch-up with our fellow marine mammal colleagues, hear what other students are working on, attend workshops, and generally just nerd-out about marine mammals! Amy and Sam gave similar talks and posters at this conference, and were happy to hear about numerous other studies looking into grey seal biology. From diet studies, to vocal learning, to spatial usage in conservation: we found the topics really fascinating and will hopefully be able to follow up on a few potential opportunities to collaborate throughout the UK and Europe!
It was also nice to visit SAMS—the Scottish Association for Marine Science –and to hear about all the interdisciplinary work going on there. For example, some ecologists working with dolphins have recently collaborated with physicists to combine their studies on the flow of tidal water and distribution/foraging of porpoises in these tidal channels. It not only was a great collaborative opportunity, but it also was quite a unique way to collect data! In a time where funding is hard to get, publishing is getting much tougher, and many people prefer to ‘play it safe’, it was great to see so many people willing to think outside of the box and try new things—as that’s what science is all about!!
Finally, the plenary speaker, Dr. David Lusseau, left us with a quote from “Sea of Cortez” by John Steinbeck and Ed F. Ricketts we’d like to leave you with:
“We sat on a crate of oranges and thought…The true biologists deal with life, with teeming boisterous life, and learns something from it, learns that the first rule of life is living…He must, so know the starfish and the student biologist who sits at the feet of living things, proliferate in all directions…move along their lines to the limit of their potentialities. “