Global Meetings from the Comfort of our Desks

You mainly see photos on social media from research groups of marine mammals and researchers collecting data in the sun with tranquil seas in the background but an awful lot goes on in the background to make sure that this data isn’t just collected for photo opportunities and actually goes on to be meaningful. One of these background tasks is knowledge sharing and collaboration between different international parties. One of the very few benefits of COVID-19 is that it has forced everything online, allowing access to meetings/workshops for a great deal more scientists who either wouldn’t be able to afford flights or wouldn’t be able to justify the carbon footprint of attending these meetings in person.

It’s been a busy week for the DMAD team and a look into our ‘new normal’ with presentations to the French Embassy in Istanbul, workshops with the Mediterranean Protected Area Network and a meeting of the IUCN family to discuss Marine Key Biodiversity Areas. On Tuesday, Dr Aylin Akkaya, DMAD’s Founder and Scientific Director met with various other parties to discuss climate change and our project run under WWF-Turkey which collects important data on the cetaceans of the Istanbul Strait. Simultaneously, DMAD’s Montenegrop Operations Director, Tim Awbery, joined a group of more than 200 scientists to take part in an online discussion about Marine Key Biodiversity Areas with presentations from a wide range of different approaches. Of particular interest to Tim were the country level work that has been taking place in Mozambique and obviously the section that focused on marine mammals which was presented by Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara.

Fast-forward less than 24 hours and Aylin and Tim were back talking to a group of more than 100 scientists from across the Mediterranean. This time these scientists were from the Mediterranean Protected Area Network (MedPAN) of which DMAD is a partner organisation. The conference was with regards to marine turtles and DMAD took part to learn about how we could make sure that the turtles that were encountered on our marine mammal research expeditions were properly recorded increasing collaboration between teams and making sure that meager research budgets stretch a little bit further.

Next week sees the DMAD team talking to specialist acousticians from the UK and Ireland and engaging in a presentations from General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean – GFCM about the State of Fisheries in the Mediterranean and Black Seas.