ECS student workshops overview
The objective main objectives of the workshop will be: (1) to teach participants in methods of first aid response to live-stranded cetaceans; (2) to impart practical skills in refloating small cetaceans (3) to inform them on the logistical challenges and risks to humans faced at a live-stranding. Brief lectures on cetacean identification, euthanasia and ethics, legal protection and the decision-making process for refloating will be given. A practical course will be undertaken on the beach at Salthill using the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group cetacean dummies and live-stranding pontoons located at the Galway Atlantiquaria. Discussions on how to manage both cetacean casualties as well as case studies will follow the practical session. Outcomes will include practical experience at providing first aid response to live stranded cetaceans. A systematic framework for dealing with all facets (legal, ethical and logistical) of live-strandings developed by both BDMLR and IWDG will be provided
Course Delivered by:
James Barnett, Alan Knight, Stephen Marsh (British Divers Marine Life Rescue)
Organiser: Conor Ryan
Marine mammals are difficult to study considering they exist in a vast environment and may move over great distances. A growing number of tools are being used in the analyses of marine mammal populations to address shortfalls in our knowledge arising due to these challenges. Some tools such as photo identification have been pioneered by cetacean biologists, while others have been borrowed from other fields including molecular genetics, morphometrics, satellite telemetry and stable isotope analysis.
The aim of this workshop is to expose students to an array of methodologies that are being applied to the study of cetacean populations. The benefits, limitations and costs associated with each technique will be discussed. The workshop aims to provide advice to students on the pitfalls associated with each technique. The latest advances in each field including those in analysis software and statistical packages will be discussed.
Molecular Genetics, Morten Tange Olsen (Stockholm University)
Photo Identification, Simon Ingram (University of Plymouth)
Trace Metals and Stable Isotope Analysis, Florence Caurant (Université de La Rochelle)
Acoustics, Filipa Samarra (University of St. Andrews)
Organiser: Conor Ryan
Peter Evans provided an overview of behavioural studies on marine mammals.
Natacha Aguilar Soto explained some basics of the behavioural questions and ethics and presented the work on acoustic and foraging behaviour of deep diving cetaceans, using D-tags.
Jonathan Gordon explained the usefulness of passive acoustics and provided the general information on acoustics, equipment and possibilities.
Simone Panigada presented passive tracking and time-depth loggers, as tools for studying cetacean behaviour in relation to foraging and human disturbance.
Randall Wells presented examples of a long-term research and monitoring project, encompassing a variety of research methods and approaches.
If you have any questions regarding the workshop 2007 or 2008, feel free to contact me on polona.kotnjekATgmail.com
The aim of the workshop 2008 was to give students an
overview over scientific research techniques that are
applied in marine mammalogy. With this introductory
seminar, they got an insight into what techniques are
relevant, which questions are important today – and
what methods are applied to answer these. Consequently, the
meeting should help students to get a clearer picture on
which possibilities they have in their future scientific
If you have any questions regarding the workshop 2007 or 2008, feel free to contact me on kris-salzer AT gmx.de.
During university studies, questions like “How do I write a scientific paper?”, “How do I prepare a poster and a presentation?” or “Where should I publish which results?” are hardly answered. However, all students need to know how to deal with these topics as it is crucial for a scientific career. Therefore, this year we wanted to give students guidelines and recommendations on scientific working techniques, and offer a platform where questions as well as the work students have done recently (e.g. posters) could be discussed.
Four experienced senior scientists gave presentations on four subjects, and contents were lively debated with the 25 workshop participants during each session. Greg Donovan from IWC presented guidelines on how to write a scientific paper, and Phil Hammond from the University of St. Andrews continued with a talk on the process of publishing such an article. Recommendations on how to give a scientific oral presentation were provided by Arne Bjørge from the University of Oslo. Finally, Peter Evans from Sea Watch Foundation discussed the preparation and presentation of scientific posters. The slides presented during the workshop as well as guidelines and further information can be downloaded below.
This workshop was organised to provide ECS students with a basic knowledge on how to analyse stranded or by-caught animals, in order to learn more about their biology and probable cause of death. We also wished to provide information on data collection, more particularly the application of standardised sampling protocols and the storage samples depending on the analysis required. Workshop objectives included:
- to take measurements and identify the condition code (state of decomposition);
- to perform a complete external examination;
- to follow the methodology of the dissection and examination;
- to apply sampling protocols depending on the condition code.
A dissection and tissue sampling protocol was made available and was applied for the demonstration realised by Dr Thierry Jauniaux of the University of Liège (Belgium) and Willy Dabin from the CRMM in La Rochelle (France). Disposable protective wear such as gloves and overshoes were supplied so that students could make the most of this opportunity to really enjoy a true “hands-on” experience.
Guillaume Marcais volunteered to write up the following summary:TOP
Student workshop on marine mammal necropsy
During the necropsy workshop, two marine mammals were dissected. The first animal was a Delphinus delphis, found stranded close to Lacanneau Océan (France). The male dolphin’s weight was approximately 60 kilograms and measured 1, 77 meters. The cause of death was thought to be due to accidental capture, as marks on his beak were noted.
The second marine mammal was a Phocoena phocoena, this female porpoise, weighing 32 kilograms, had been trapped by a gillnet.
The two animals were in a relatively fresh state, having been frozen for dissection.
After the biometry and the NCC (Nutritive condition code) measurements were taken, each animal was dissected by Thierry Jauniaux and Willy Dabin so that all the students present could understand the anatomy of the animals.
Next, several different samples were taken. Firstly, in order to identify the age, several teeth were extracted. To provide a genetic analysis, pieces of skin from which the fat was removed were taken and stored in 70% alcohol.
The stomachs were extracted to study their contents and to find traces of the animals’ recent diet. The blubber was also measured to gain an idea of the state of health of the animals.
The dissection continued with the extraction of the organs. Samples were taken of several organs in order to measure the quantity of two polluting elements : heavy metals and POPs. For the heavy metal samples, the fat, kidney and muscle were wrapped directly in plastic bags to avoid any contamination and frozen at -20°C. To analyze the load of POPs in the animals, samples of liver and fat were extracted. The decision was taken to store the samples in aluminum foil in order to avoid contact between the tissue and the plastic. Each part was frozen at -20°C. The liver and the lungs were examined for parasites. A few parasites were found in the genital region of the male dolphin.
This year in Kolmården we wanted to offer students the chance to discuss with scientists who work in different fields of marine mammal science (Conservation, Behaviour, Ecology, Acoustics, Toxicology, Pathology…). This allowed them to be able to learn something of what the work in these various fields actually consists in and possibly obtain some insight and/or advice on how they can pursue their own interests in these fields.
Everyone got together in the café area outside of the hotel / conference centre restaurant to sit down around a cup of coffee, tea or something else, and just tossed questions and ideas back and forth.
The approximately 40 students attended were able to split up in smaller groups and chat with several of the “senior scientist” participants:
Dr Graham Pierce, University of Aberdeen
Colin MacLeod, University of Aberdeen
Dr Christina Lockyer, Age Dynamics
Dr Thierry Jauniaux, University of Liège
Jan Willem Broekema, ECS
Ilka Hasselmeier, FTZ
The Las Palmas ECS Student workshop centred on human-cetacean interactions, with the objective of getting students together to share their experiences and opinions on this subject. It was organised around several presentations given by students on their experience with various aspects of this theme, allowing for an exchange of ideas afterwards:
Interactions in the wild
The particularity of the process of adaptations to captivity conditions of the Black Sea bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates) – Tatyana Denisenko & Olga Sokolova
Research / education in delphinariums – Monika Lechermeier
Line A. Kyhn volunteered to write a summary of the first two presentations for this website.
Considering the necessity of collecting a maximum of data from stranded animals such as tissue samples, and the role of morbillivirus as a major infectious agent for marine mammals, in Liège two student workshops took place at the end of the congress, at the department of pathology (organised by Dr. Thierry Jauniaux):
- A necropsy demonstration (on a harbour porpoise),
performed by Dr. Jauniaux, using standard protocols in
order to discuss practical cases and problems met by people
involved in stranding networks.
Place: Veterinary Faculty Building
Participants: Alejandro Ucloa, Cristina Beans, Katja Vinding Petersen, Maja Kirkegaard, Klervi Allee, Nadia El Mjiyad (instructor), L. N. Measures & Maria Iversen
The main purpose of the workshop was to learn how to detect Morbillivirus in tissue samples from whales and seals by the use of immunohistochemistry. This staining technique allows for the visualization of tissue (cell) antigens.
After a short introduction, it was explained how to get a thin slice of tissue connected to the slide. First, a small tissue sample was put in a small box, which bathed in a paraffin bath. The parafinised tissue was then cut in very thin slices, which were laid on the slide and covered with a substance (silene) to keep the tissue in the right space. After that, the slides were bathed in alcohol baths with declining strength to wash off the paraffin.
Then it was time to try something ourselves. In another laboratory we received some slides, which were labelled so that the instructor was able to se if the sample was suppose to be infected or not. First, we used an ImmEdge pen to keep the solutions and antigens in a limited space on the slides. Then we started the biochemical treatments with a DAKO Peroxydase-blocking-solution (8 minutes). After this the samples were bathed in buffer (TRIS) to neutralize the active sides. Then the slides were incubated following reagents for various times, each incubation was followed by a buffer bath.
2) Proteinase K (Ready-to-use) DAKO
After the incubations the slides were washed in distilled
water and stained with haematoxolin during 10 minutes.
Finally, the slides were observed/analysed under the
microscope - if some of the cells appeared red it was a
sign of the virus Þ the animal was positive for the
The workshop was in all a good experience, interesting subject, nice people, very good café, and nice surroundings. A suggestion for any changes would be to use some of the incubation time to go through the background for the results & methods. Indeed, the workshop is a good tool in the future.
DAKO (2000): A guide to Demasking of Antigens on
Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-embedded Tissue.
As a student from the University of Geneva - Switzerland, I finally had the chance to observe a necropsy of a 14,3 kg porpoise, as there aren’t that many in the Lake of Geneva. It was at a 3 state of decomposition of the body following Kuiken's condition code (skin peeling, organs still intact, bad smelling, etc...). I learned about the importance of the measurements, the previous tissue and liquid samples in all orifices for bacteriological analysis. Then, during the cutting there was a very precise protocol for collecting the internal organs without disordering or damaging the next samples to be taken.
For a good and rapid co-ordination, there must be a team with different tasks given to everyone: Pictures, reports, help and assistance for putting the samples in bottles, and so on… Then the most important organs (in our case, thymus, thyroid, liver and kidney) have to be sent for toxicological analysis, parasitology, bacteriology, histopathology, and others. We found several parasites in the inner ear, which were sent to be analysed.
It was really interesting, and a thrilling moment for me. Thanks to the staff, and Thierry for giving us such possibilities.
At the Rome conference we had a student workshop entitled: "GET INTO CONTACT" in order to give the ECS-students the opportunity to get to know each other and to talk about specific topics.
Three working groups were organized, an acoustics group joined by the senior scientists Darlene Ketten, Jakob Tougaard and Nick Tregenza, a conservation & ecology group, divided into two groups with senior scientists Giovanni Bearzi, Greg Donovan, Peter Evans and Jaume Forcada, and last but not least a strandings & conservation group joined by the senior scientists Paul Jepson, Carl Kinze, Toni Raga and Emer Rogan. A summary of each working group was given at the end of the workshop by students attending the groups and compiled for sending it out through email to all people attending the workshop, and upon request also to you.
Please send your request to
The first was organized by the SMM student member-at-large
Leah Gerber, and the ECS student representative Paula
Moreno. The workshop was highly attended and highly
regarded, and started what will hopefully continue to be a
valuable resource for students.