Workshops ECS2023


Workshops will be held on Sunday 16th and Monday 17th April 2023, before the main track of the ECSconference2023 (18-20 April).

Workshops have an associated cost that is NOT included in the conference registration:

- €20/person for a Half-Day workshop

- €30/person for a Full-Day Workshop

- There are two STUDENT workshops that will be given FREE OF CHARGE

Workshop registration and attendance payments will be made to the workshop organizer directly. Contact each workshop organizer to register.

Workshop Descriptions and Schedule below 


SUNDAY, APRIL 16th 2023

Scoping the development of a European marine strandings database

SUNDAY - HALF-DAY, MORNING - Hotel Spa Norat O Grove: Rúa Luís Casais, 22, 36980 O Grove

Description: The ASCOBANS region contains many long-term strandings monitoring and investigation programmes, several spanning multiple decades. Data that are collected through these programmes are routinely collated on national/local databases, and in many instances, made available through reports and/or public release of information. Currently there is no mechanism to combine and display these data at an international level or across the range-states of the species under investigation. Collating data at a wider spatial resolution is likely to assist in identifying unusual mortality events, assessing trends in species distribution and streamline IGO reporting requirements.

The objective of the workshop is to identify the possible benefits and challenges associated with developing and curating a European wide strandings database for the ASCOBANS region. Representatives of all ASCOBANS and ACCOBAMS strandings networks will be invited to attend.

Organizer: ASCOBANS/Jenny Renell (ASCOBANS Coordinator):


Cetaceans with focus on killer whales, encounters and entanglements: human-wildlife interactions in the Arctic and the Iberian Atlantic coast

SUNDAY - HALF-DAY, AFTERNOON - Casa da Cultura - Rúa Monte da Vila, 11, 36980 O Grove, Pontevedra

Description: This workshop will be an interdisciplinary event with presenters from various fields of research to highlight human-wildlife interactions and encounters seen from different perspectives within natural and human sciences including a discussion in the end of the workshop on policy options and problem solving. The presenters will provide case studies with a comparative approach from the Arctic and from the Iberian Atlantic coast and adjacent waters. One case study will centre on recent issues of orcas interacting with sailboats and other small vessels in the Iberian Atlantic coastal areas. Another presentation will be a historic insight into killer whales with focus on human interactions in the 1950’s in Iceland, where killer whales were destroying fishing nets and the Icelandic government’s solution was to ask the American Navy to bomb them. Other presentations will involve Cetacean entanglements in fishing gear and experiences with other species of marine mammals than killer whales. How can we integrate and reconcile knowledge on what we already know about cetacean intelligence and social behaviour with interests that include fisheries, marine wildlife watching and other ecosystem services? What governance alternatives are there for tackling human-wildlife conflicts in marine spaces occupied by marine mammals and used by humans for economic subsistence and marine tourism?  The aim of the workshop is to contribute to an open discussion and informed dialogue including different stakeholders, sailors, fishers, tourism, government as well as international scientists.

Organizer: Marianne Rasmussen - and Níels Einarsson -

Student workshop – Mental Health and Wellbeing in Academia (FREE)


Maddalena Fumagalli

Data show that the occurrence of mental health and wellbeing issues (e.g., depression, anxiety, burnout) is higher in researchers and academics than in the other professional populations. We know that toxic culture, uncertainty, mobility, and isolation, to name a few, are taking a toll on our health and that of colleagues at all career stages, and that solutions can be found in collegial and social interactions, among others.

Postgraduate studies are known to be tough and challenging on many. While this can be common, it doesn’t have to be normal. Looking after our wellbeing is important and a necessity. This workshop seeks, first of all, to bring the dialogue on mental health to our community. It aims to provide participants with a non-judgmental space for an open dialogue, basic mental health literacy as well as practical skills and tools we can all adopt and implement to promote positive mental health for ourselves and our groups.

It has to be emphasized that this session aims to equip participants with basic knowledge to recognize and offer immediate support to people experiencing mental distress and poor wellbeing. It will provide an overview of medical support services and options available, but is not intended to, or to offer tools to, diagnose and treat mental ill-health in self or others. 

Organizer: Student representative, Yaly Mevorach –

For registration -

Thinking outside the box: management challenges for the conservation of small coastal cetacean populations

SUNDAY - HALF DAY, AFTERNOON -  Hotel Spa Norat O Grove: Rúa Luís Casais, 22, 36980 O Grove

Description: In the past three decades, many MPAs have been designated to protect small localised populations of cetaceans around the coasts of Europe. Some of these designations are SACs for bottlenose dolphins or harbour porpoises designated under the Habitats Directive as part of the Natura 2000 initiative. Although in many cases these designations have provided appropriate protection and management there are many small and highly mobile populations of bottlenose dolphins and several other species that are not best served by small, fixed MPAs. This workshop will examine different approaches to improve conservation management for small vulnerable cetacean populations living in highly impacted coastal habitats. We will explore concepts such as dynamic management and explore a more risk based approach to protect animals that range widely around our coasts. We aim to explore methods that we can use to build a tool kit for assessing exposure to threats and better protection for these populations.

The format of the workshop will be a series of presentations on relevant topics followed by break out discussions and a summing up session.

Organizer: Simon Ingram -

MONDAY, APRIL 17th 2023

Whales as oceanic engineers

MONDAY - HALF DAY, MORNING - Hotel Louxo La Toja - Isla de la Toja, s/n, Rúa Cortegada, 36991 O Grove, Pontevedra

Description: The aim of this workshop is to illustrate and experience the role whales, dolphins and porpoises have towards climate change and biodiversity (nature-based solutions), and the limited attention this gets worldwide. The workshop will include a short introduction presentation with a stress on the ecosystem function whales have, such as whale pump, whale poo, migration, and carbon sink. The presentation will relate to climate change and marine biodiversity and will include extra information on the role small cetaceans play. Participants will participate in an interactive "Whale Poo Game" which It consists of setting up a complete marine ecosystem (plankton, whales, poo, sun, fish, etc.), adding human factors (fishing, boat traffic, whale hunt, etc.) and finally how to revive the natural marine system. The game will include group discussion. Participants will also participate in an interactive session with the website, and a final round-table discussion.

Organizer: Nynke Osinga -

Setting up an international network to reinforce the collaboration with Marine Mammal Tourism companies and enhance their sustainability


Description: Whale-watching activities are widely spread over the world in many locations where each single sighting is precious both for scientific and management points of view. However, whale-watching companies do not always report their activities or sightings. The workshop will give the opportunity to experts to discuss and assess joint actions in order to enhance the framework between companies, scientists and decision makers. Initially the workshop will illustrate some recent key actions in different countries for reporting activities and improving collaborative whale-watching data collection. Then, the workshop will encourage discussions between experts, in breakout groups, each focusing on a specific topic about the challenges of efficient collaborations. The workshop will be an opportunity to exchange experience and lessons learnt between different regions and to support the establishment of an international network made to enhance collaborative activities with marine mammal tourism.

Organizer: Aurelie Moulins -

Prospective Discussion about Passive Acoustic Monitoring of Marine Mammal for MSFD D1

MONDAY - HALF DAY, MORNING - Hotel Louxo La Toja - Isla de la Toja, s/n, Rúa Cortegada, 36991 O Grove, Pontevedra

Description: The aim of this workshop is to discuss with other EU Member States who are considering the use of acoustics as a monitoring method for cetaceans in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and how it could be integrated into the Good Ecological Status assessment. 

The MFSD context and expectations will be presented in an introductory part as well as the objectives and expected results of the workshop: to share the current contents of the different national monitoring programmes for cetaceans and/or underwater noise, to present the existing acoustic monitoring projects (for D11 and / or D1) and to discuss the opportunity to include them in the monitoring programmes.

From a technical perspective, the workshop will focus on the different existing or non-existing passive acoustic monitoring of cetaceans that can provide complementary information to the different monitoring programmes already in place to provide an assessment of cetaceans’ status at populations scale. This workshop can stimulate collaboration between governments, scientists and NGOs involved in cetacean monitoring and can foster transboundary initiatives that would align with the objectives of the MSFD.

In a first part, the different passive acoustic monitoring projects/programmes of marine mammals will be presented by countries that are currently deploying them, that are in development or that wish to integrate them into their national monitoring programme in the framework of the implementation of the MSFD Biodiversity Descriptor D1 in EU Member States. Participants involved in or responsible for such monitoring programmes will be invited to present them for their respective countries.

In a second part, a discussion on the use and integration of acoustic data from these monitoring programmes in the assessment of the Good Ecological Status of D1 (e.g. for Criteria D1C5 on habitat use) will be proposed. The aim is to try to synchronise the studies by homogenizing the data processing and descriptive metrics in order to integrate these studies into indicators for assessing the Good Ecological Status.

Organizer: Mathilde Michel-

Acoustic analysis in R

MONDAY - HALF DAY, MORNING - Casa da Cultura - Rúa Monte da Vila, 11, 36980 O Grove, Pontevedra

Description: Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) is a common tool to investigate cetaceans and other marine fauna, such as seals or fish, especially to document long-term and large-scale distribution patterns in rather remote regions. Such long-term and large-scale monitoring programs produce vast amounts of data that have to be processed in a time-efficient manner to extract valuable information on, for example, soundscapes, biodiversity, single species presence or anthropogenic noise contribution. While numerous types of sound analysis software exist, many of these require the purchase of a costly license, which will then allow you to use the full functionality of the software.

During this workshop we want to show how the open-source programming language R can be used to conduct simple signal processing tasks as well as single species detection and bioacoustic index calculation. The workshop is planned as a hands-on practical format, where workshop participants will conduct all analyses on their own computers under the instruction of the workshop organizers and with the provision of prepared scripts and test datasets (i.e., provided by the workshop organizers). Workshop participants will be able to take home all workshop related materials (i.e., scripts, data, and instructions), will have first experiences in conducting acoustic analyses in R themselves, and will be able to ask questions on how to tackle specific problems related to their own data.

Organizer: Elena Schall -

Student workshop – QGIS (FREE)


Description: QGIS is a free and open-source cross-platform desktop geographic information system (GIS) application that supports viewing, editing, printing, and analysis of geospatial data. Knowledge of GIS is increasingly in demand across a wide range of industries and a variety of biological studies, including marine mammal research.

Many projects use GIS to plan survey routes, track marine mammal movements, describe distribution and more, and students who work on these projects need to learn how to use GIS. The aim of the workshop is to give a basic introduction to GIS for the ECS students that might be needing it in their project or research.

This workshop will primarily be based around QGIS (also known as Quantum GIS), which provides a user-friendly, open source, free alternative to commercial GIS software packages, and it is becoming increasingly used in both academic and commercial settings.

The workshop will give a short entry level introduction of QGIS and its application including:

- How to build a map

- How to import waypoints, add or remove layers and design a study

- How to export a map properly for presentations of papers

- In addition, the students will be given the opportunity to experiment with the software themselves with the support of the workshop instructors.

Organizer: Student representative, Yaly Mevorach –

For registration - - The workshop is now full, to register for the waiting list please email Yaly Mevorach –

Crossing the trail of cetaceans: harmonising and improving EU transborder monitoring of cetacean using ferries/large vessels as multidisciplinary research vessels to support the EU Nature Legislative framework


Description: Cetaceans are essential components of the marine ecosystem, whose preservation is a pillar of the nature and environmental legislative framework. Identify the priorities for conservation is however challenging as many influencing factors make it difficult to gather sufficient information to disclose the variable nature of their life. On the other side, the EU nature legislation framework is not always coherent and aligned, and there is still a lack of shared systematic methodological approaches to answer the legislative requirements.

Large scale, international cooperation is a prerequisite for scientific programmes aiming at supporting the legislative requirements, and enhance the conservation of cetacean species. Long term programmes were run in EU waters for the monitoring of cetaceans species using operating ferries/cargo as research platform. During recent years, effort was put in place for networking among initiatives, fine tuning methodological approaches, supporting multidisciplinary procedures and advancing the use of new technologies.  

Exploring all the phases, from protocol to data collection, data analysis, guideline, practicalities and tools, this workshop aim at advancing awareness on the state of the art of programmes and projects dealing with the interface between science and policy.  Starting from the main advancements reached by two whide range projects, the IMPEL EU MTT and the Life CONCEPTU MARIS, the WS aims at improving the sharing of experiences with other projects and initiatives, delineating new perspectives for s large scale international cooperation.

Organizer: Roberto Crosti - and Antonella Servidio -

Utilising the ECS ‘Hivemind’ to Expand Knowledge of Small Cetacean Ecosystem Functioning

MONDAY - HALF DAY, AFTERNOON - Casa da Cultura - Rúa Monte da Vila, 11, 36980 O Grove, Pontevedra

Description: The aim of this workshop is to explore the research gaps in small cetacean ecosystem functioning and how we can collaborate to advance understanding, leading to meaningful policy change.

The workshop will start with a short overview of the WDC Green Whale programme, followed by a presentation on the current understanding of small cetacean ecosystem functioning. This will include, if known, an overview of current projects underway. A short presentation on Stichting Rugvin’s harbour porpoise ecosystem functioning project will then lead to an open workshop session with the ultimate aim of identifying outline projects and potential collaborations that WDC will look to work with further. Topics of discussion during the workshop session will include:

- What else do we know about small cetacean ecosystem functioning?

- What data already exists that could be useful in enhancing understanding of this topic?

- How can we ensure standard protocols for data collection? Do these need to be developed?

- How can we utilise ongoing research to provide missing data?

- Identification of possible collaborators / research partners? Funding sources?

- What does a major research project on this topic look like? Is it even viable?

Organizer: Nicola Hodgins -

Current cetacean bycatch issues in European waters: ACCOBAMS-ASCOBANS Joint Bycatch Working Group (JBWG) Workshop

MONDAY - HALF DAY, AFTERNOON - HOTEL LOUXO LA TOJA: Isla de la Toja, s/n, Rúa Cortegada, 36991 O Grove, Pontevedra

Description: Bycatch in various fishing gears remains one of the most serious threats to cetaceans worldwide. Despite legal and technical instruments in place to mitigate such bycatch in European seas, there are geographical areas and species of particular concern due to high bycatch rates. Notable examples include Baltic and Black Sea harbour porpoises, common dolphins in the Bay of Biscay. Two Regional Agreements on conservation of cetaceans in European and adjascent waters, ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS, have established a Joint Bycacth Working Group to address this problem by sharing experiences and information.

Organizer: Ayaka Amaha Ozturk -

Joint Cetacean Data Programme; Developing a Data Community

MONDAY - HALF DAY - MORNING - Hotel Spa Norat O Grove: Rúa Luís Casais, 22, 36980 O Grove

Description: The Joint Cetacean Data Programme (JCDP) aims to better facilitate access to and use of effort-related cetacean survey data, by collating the growing evidence-base from across the northeast Atlantic into a single accessible resource. The JCDP encourages data collectors to make standardised high-quality data more readily available and enable development of open access data products to better inform research and policy.

The ECS conference offers a unique opportunity for the WGJCDP to engage with the cetacean data community to gain insight and inspiration for future of the JCDP, through a dedicated workshop.

The workshop will be broken down to 3 or 4 key themes including identification of and engagement with new data providers; barriers to data submission and potential solutions; and a forward look at what we want the JCDP to become. The format will be interactive including a presentation session; breakout discussion and various methods to capture the information to feed into the future of the JCDP.

Please book a place by filling out this online form -

This workshop is being offered free of charge

Organizer: Nikki Taylor and Niki Clear -


IV Edition: “What is new in Cetacean Pathology”

MONDAY - FULL DAY - Casa da Cultura - Rúa Monte da Vila, 11, 36980 O Grove, Pontevedra

Description: This workshop provides a dedicated forum for experts in marine mammal pathology to share and discuss new pathologies, outbreaks, diagnostic tools, etc., in the context of marine mammal pathology and conservation within the conference.

The workshop is aimed at using pathology as a tool for cetacean health and conservation. Advances in cetacean pathology, including field, laboratory diagnosis, new methodologies, and tools, will be presented and discussed. We have organized this workshop at three previous ECS meetings: 2016, in Madeira (Portugal), 2018, in La Spezia (Italy), and 2019 at WMMC in Barcelona (Spain). Previous workshops were very successful with full occupancy (40-80). Given the great welcome, interest, and good feedback from the last editions, we would like to organize the fourth edition at this year’s ECS conference. The workshop will consist of invited speakers and a case report discussion and presentations. We are looking for an interactive and dynamic atmosphere for exchanging knowledge. The expected outcome of the workshop is the in-situ exchange of knowledge, continuing education in marine mammals' pathology, and strengthening collaboration and networking among marine mammal pathologists.

Organizer: Antonio Fernández -

Communicating Marine Mammal Science to the General Public

MONDAY - FULL DAY - HOTEL LOUXO LA TOJA: Isla de la Toja, s/n, Rúa Cortegada, 36991 O Grove, Pontevedra

Description: Scientific research and findings are not easily understood outside the scientific community. Important studies leading to conservation measures and policy changes need to be more clearly understood to be embraced and supported by the public, thus making accessible the knowledge of complex or specific problems and possible solutions.
Increased awareness of environmental challenges can foster stronger conservation action within society, orienting decision-makers and private or public investment support.
We will provide opportunity to:
- Broaden the reach of scientific communication
- Foster collaboration between scientists and non-scientist
- Provide communication tools to the ECS

This 9th workshop’s intention is to bring together a variety of practitioners who approach communication of marine mammal science from different perspectives (e.g., researchers, artists, museum curators, educators, social media communicators, fundraising officers, journalists, documentary makers, and additional stakeholders), promoting discussion and collaboration.
Presentations of contributions are planned to be accompanied with practical examples, performances and expositions to complete the workshop experience.

Organizer: Luigi Bundone -