34th Annual Conference, Galicia, Spain

Our Oceans, our Future

Important dates

Abstract submission deadline
Early registration deadline
Late registration deadline


The Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute - (BDRI) is pleased to invite you to the 34th Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society at O Grove, Galicia, Spain from 18th April to 20th April 2023.

Conference Programme includes 2 days of workshops on the 16th and 17th April apart from the 3 days of plenary sessions.

The 34th ECS Conference in O Grove 2023 will be conducted in the traditional in-person format and all oral and poster presenters will be required to attend the meeting in person. In addition, all scientific communications will be made available digitally after the conference. This will be a great opportunity to reconnect in person after the pandemic years and talk about marine mammals, science, conservation, discuss research, meet colleagues, have fun and make friends. 

To register for the ECS conference, please login first or create a personal profile. It will also allow you to submit an abstract.

Abstract submission is closed now.

The theme of the conference is


Marine Mammal Behavioural Ecology & The Sustainable Use of Marine Resources

When talking about sustainability and fair use of marine resources, it is inevitable to address and recognize the importance of a better understanding of the ecology and behaviour of marine mammals and their environment. Like marine mammals, many human communities depend directly or indirectly on marine ecosystems and their biodiversity for their livelihoods. This is the case in Galicia, where fishing and aquaculture are among the most representative economic activities associated with the use of marine resources. Effective management of marine biodiversity conservation is based on science. Likewise, the conservation of marine mammals represents a fundamental field of action to guarantee the balance of marine ecosystems. 

Therefore, under this theme, we are inviting the scientific community to submit any topic related to issues of marine mammal science and conservation.

We urge you to keep these dates in mind:

WORKSHOPS: Sunday 16th - Monday 17th April 2023

CONFERENCE (in-person only): Tuesday 18th, Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th April 2023

Call for Abstracts Opens: 15 September 2022 (00:00 CET)

Abstract submission deadline: 14 December 2022 (23:45 CET)

Early Bird Registration Deadline: 15 February 2023 (23:45 CET)


The Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute (BDRI) is a marine science center dedicated to research, education, and conservation of marine mammals. The mission of the BDRI since 2005 has been to study marine biodiversity and to educate scientists, students, decision-makers, and the public on scientific research and how to contribute to marine conservation. BDRI scientists conduct research across a wide range of subject areas such as the link between marine mammals and their environment, cetacean society and population dynamics, the interaction between marine megafauna and human activities, and cetacean behaviour and acoustic communication. Our research team also trains future generations of marine scientists and are committed to understanding and reducing the impact of human activities on the marine ecosystems. BDRI’s reputation and success rest solidly on its ability to publish multiple scientific studies in prestigious scientific journals.

More info at www.thebdri.com



Bruno Díaz López: Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute (BDRI)

Séverine Methion: Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute (BDRI)

Olga Mosca: Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute (BDRI)

Nathalie Dunel Roig: Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute (BDRI)

Joyce Gabriela Azenha Neves: Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute (BDRI)


We look forward to seeing all of you in Galicia, enjoy together the beauty of the coastline around O Grove and share together a lot of marine mammal research and conservation information!

Do you need information on how to travel to O Grove?
Looking for a place to stay in O Grove?

Looking for hotels and restaurants that offer discounts for conference participants?

Check these links:




To receive an invoice: treasurer@europeancetaceansociety.eu

Organising Committee: ecs2023@thebdri.com


Information on the workshops that will be held at the conference on the 16th and 17th April 2023 will be also available here.


The 34th ECS Conference will be conducted in the traditional in-person format.

All posters and oral presentations will be carried out in-person only.

In order to make the scientific communications presented at the conference available to anyone that is not able to be physically present in Galicia, all keynote, oral presentations and speed talks will be recorded (unless the presenter does not agree to do so). All recorded materials and digital posters will be made available online after the conference and have an associated cost of €50 (registration page: "Subsequent access to Recordings of the Presentation and Posters"). Access to the recorded materials will be granted as part of the conference registration fee to all in-person participants.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet many researchers from around the world and exchange experience and knowledge, either during formal presentations or in informal chats over coffee breaks, lunch hours, and social events.

The conference programme will be available for download at this link as soon as it becomes available: PROGRAMME


In April 2023, eminent scientists from around the world will come together at the 34th Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society. Building on our conference theme, "OUR OCEANS, OUR FUTURE: Behavioural ecology of marine mammals and sustainable use of marine resources", ECS2023 will highlight the importance of a better understanding of the ecology and behaviour of marine mammals for sustainable use of marine resources and conservation of marine biodiversity.

At this conference, the ECS2023 plenary speakers include a world-renowned marine mammal expert, a woman scientist with expertise in the use of new technologies to study acoustic ecology of deep diving cetaceans, and a distinguished university professor with extensive experience in the study of baleen whales.

We are delighted to share that the plenary speakers for ECS2023 will be: Bernd Würsig, Natacha Aguilar de Soto, and Alex Aguilar.


Bernd Würsig

Marine Mammals, Humans, and Nature

Many humans consider marine mammals special. Over millions of years, they adapted for life in water, and as airbreathing warm-blooded animals have made significant compromises of living in disparate physical systems for the furred ones and giving birth underwater for the furless ones. Some have developed echolocation not unlike bats also in a three-dimensional environment, some have developed the largest physical batch-feeding capabilities on Earth. At the same time, and probably largely due to extreme environments full of danger, they are also incredibly social. Some are rather large-brained, behaviorally flexible, and societal, but we do not know much about "intelligences" in them or in us. Many humans - perhaps most in this hall - have empathy for them and see them as powerful indicators of often beleaguered nature. We want to conserve them for physical well-being, but also for psychological health, as there seems little point in maintaining stable populations if survival of individuals requires constant struggle to avoid fishing gear, prey depletion, ship strikes, intolerable noise and chemical intoxication. But as we learn more about intricacies of nature, we may realize that they are no more special than African wild dogs and dung beetles, than mighty oak trees and seedling willows. All of nature is special, as in the concepts of biophilia and “natural goodness”. This is the biocentric view, not at odds with the anthropocentric view of conserving nature for the good of humanity, if we reject the dualist notion that humanity is a separate entity from nature. As we blend the two, we realize that to truly do good for nature does good for humans also, and the better stewards of - in this case - water environments we become (we are not there yet), the better chances marine mammals and all of nature have to thrive.


Alex Aguilar

The business of annihilation: 20th century whaling in the Iberian Peninsula

The northern coast of the Iberian Peninsula was the cradle of whaling and sustained an almost continuous whaling activity for a millennium. During at least 800 years, the Basques chased the right whale in this area and precipitated the extinction of the species in European waters. The 19th century was a period of pause, with limited exploitation by American and English whalers taking modest numbers of sperm whales offshore. However, in 1921 large-scale whaling resumed, this time led by Norwegian and British whalers equipped with modern steamboats and guns. A chain of land and floating factories dotted the front of the Iberian Peninsula, from the Strait of Gibraltar to Galicia including Portugal. This time, the target was the large rorquals and the sperm whale. The mortality that occurred was unprecedented. The figure of 30-40 whales a year caught by traditional whalers jumped to 1,000-1,500 whales a year. This new exploitation never aspired to be sustainable. The intensity of the harvest was intentionally devastating and the factory buildings and machinery were designed to move quickly to a new location once the local whale populations had been wiped out. The behaviour of the companies was a clear reflection of this policy: over the course of half a century, one of them jumped from Norway to Iceland, then to the Hebrides, Spain, Newfoundland, Namibia and finally to the Antarctic Ocean; in none of these locations it stayed for more than five years. As a result, whale populations were decimated in the Iberian Peninsula in just six years, and the first round of activities ceased in 1927. From 1944, timid attempts were made to resume action, but the whale populations were so depleted that all initiatives ended up bankrupt. Only one company managed to remain modestly active in Galicia from 1951 until the arrival in 1985 of the moratorium that meant the definitive liquidation of the activity on the peninsula. More than 35 years later, this history of rampant exploitation has left a legacy from which local populations of whales are still recovering.

AEI/ 10.13039/501100011033 funded this research


Natacha Aguilar de Soto

Deep Knowledge Needed for Ocean Protection

Deep oceanic waters constitute the largest and most unknown ecosystem of planet Earth. Oceanic communities are vulnerable to impacts derived from encroaching human activities such as deep-sea fishing and mining, marine traffic, etc. Megafauna are key and indicator species, thus, it is essential to learn about their ecological requirements and vulnerability to aid our understanding of oceanic ecosystems. Further, megafauna are often the most direct way to study the deep ecosystem. Here we present a comparative analysis of the acoustic ecology of oceanic megafauna from three taxa of deep diving cetaceans: sperm, pilot and beaked whales. They have evolved to solve the challenges of feeding at depth, communicating and caring for young in very different ways rendering niche diversification. Further, their different way of life modulates their vulnerability and resilience to human impacts. We present results integrating acoustic and movement biologging sensors to describe the foraging ecology, prey selection and hunting tactics of the species. This is analysed in relation to internal factors such as the physiology and ontogenetic stage of the animals, and to external factors such as circadian changes in the distribution of biomass throughout the water column. The later is derived from acoustic probing with echosounders and from the echolocation activity of the whales themselves acting as bio-echosounders. Also, the behaviour of the whales in the context of a soundscape of fear to reduce predation pressure influences their responses to human noise, ranging from apparently null to stress. These responses or the lack of them can render lethal effects such as ship-strikes, mass mortalities related to underwater anthropogenic noise, etc. We need knowledge to design effective mitigation methods, but we also need to apply the precautionary principle given the challenges in quantifying population effects of human impacts on deep sea megafauna.



On the occasion of the 34th Conference of the European Cetacean Society, we will propose a series of events that will allow participants to discover the beauties of the territory, its nature, its traditions and the treasures of the local gastronomy. Congress participants will enjoy authentic and unforgettable activities in full respect of nature and the environment, while at the same time having fun and expanding their knowledge. 

More information on events will become available HERE closer to the conference.


  • Bernd Würsig: Texas A&M University 
  • Gill Braulik: University of St Andrews
  • Antonio J. Fernández:  University Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • Alex Aguilar: University of Barcelona
  • Cristina Brito: University NOVA de Lisboa
  • Mariano Domingo: University Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB)
  • Séverine Methion: Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute (BDRI)
  • Graham Pierce: Spanish National Research Council (IIM - CSIC)
  • Antonella Arcangeli: Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA)
  • Giovanni Bearzi: Dolphin Biology and Conservation
  • Paula Méndez Fernández: Observatoire Pelagis
  • Juan Antonio Raga: University of Valencia
  • Inés Carvalho: Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Lisbon
  • Tiago Marques: University of St Andrews
  • Caterina Fortuna: Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA)
  • Bruno Díaz López: Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute (BDRI)