In August 2022, eminent scientists, experts and leaders from across the globe will come together in Palm Beach, Florida, as well as virtually, for The Society for Marine Mammalogy’s 24th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals. Building off our conference theme, “A Sea Change: Transforming Science into Stewardship”, SMM2021 will highlight the value of diversity in all forms in marine mammal science, from our multidisciplinary approaches to the improvement of diversity in our field.

This conference, SMM2021 plenary speakers include a world renowned oceanographer, NASA astronaut, distinguished college faculty and author, and conservation veterinarian. We are thrilled to share that the opening plenary speaker for SMM2021 will be Dr. Sylvia Earle.

Dr. Sylvia Earle

Topic: Blue Hope: Exploring Earth’s Magnificent Oceans

Dr. Sylvia Earle is the President and Chairman of Mission Blue, an Explorer in Residence at the National Geographic Society, Founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research Inc. (DOER), Chair of the Advisory Council for the Harte Research Institute and former Chief Scientist of NOAA.

Author of more than 225 publications and leader of more than 100 expeditions with over 7,500 hours underwater, Dr. Earle is a graduate of Florida State University with M.A. and PhD. degrees from Duke University and 32 honorary degrees. Her research concerns the ecology and conservation of marine ecosystems and development of technology for access to the deep sea. 

She is the subject of the Emmy® Award Winning Netflix documentary, Mission Blue, and the recipient of more than 100 national and international honors and awards including being named Time Magazine’s first Hero for the Planet, a Living Legend by the Library of Congress, 2014 UNEP Champion of the Earth, Glamour Magazine’s 2014 Woman of the Year, member of the Netherlands Order of the Golden Ark, and winner of the 2009 TED Prize, the Walter Cronkite Award, the 1996 Explorers Club Medal, the Royal Geographic Society 2011 Patron’s Medal, and the National Geographic 2013 Hubbard Medal.

Michael A. Castellini, PhD

Professor of Marine Biology and Dean of the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Emeritus, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Topic: Marine Mammal Stewardship at the Top and the Top of the World

Mike Castellini received his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, San Diego; his doctorate in marine biology and his first postdoc at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD; and further postdoc work at the University of British Columbia Vancouver. His research focus has been on comparative vertebrate physiology, biochemistry and behavioral adaptations in diving marine mammals and birds. Further research involved population health and response to climate change. His fascination with seals, whales, other marine mammals, and seabirds has led him to join in on over 20 sea expeditions in the Antarctic and the Arctic polar regions. He arrived at University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1989 and was the founding director of the Alaska SeaLife Center from 1995-1999. Castellini was also integral in the startup of the Research Vessel Sikuliaq, a world-renowned research facility, and has been the senior director of the BLaST Research Enrichment Core since 2016. Castellini retired in December 2020 after almost 50 years in research, authorship, and service.

Michael J. Moore, Vet. MB. PhD

Director, Marine Mammal Center and Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Topic: The Changing Face of Whale Trauma: What We Know and Have to Do

Michael J. Moore has a veterinary degree from the University of Cambridge in the UK, and a PhD from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA. He has been based at WHOI in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, since 1986 where he is now a Senior Scientist. He is Director of the WHOI Marine Mammal Center and provides veterinary support to the Marine Mammal Rescue and Research division of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, supporting their work with stranded marine mammals on Cape Cod.  His research encompasses the forensic analysis of marine mammal mortalities, especially in regard to the accurate diagnosis of perceived human impacts and the prevalence of zoonotic agents, large whale health assessment at sea using unmanned aerial systems, the interaction of natural and man-made impacts on fish and marine mammal stocks, pathophysiology of marine mammal diving, and development of systems to enhance medical intervention with large whales and technologies to reduce large whale entanglement.

NASA astronaut

(to be announced closer to the conference)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is America’s civil space program and the global leader in space exploration. The agency has a diverse workforce of just under 18,000 civil servants, and works with many more U.S. contractors, academia, and international and commercial partners to explore, discover, and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.

Nantarika Chansue, DVM, PhD

Director, Veterinary Medical Aquatic Animal Research Center, Chulalongkorn University
Topic: Marine Mammal Rescue with Limited Resources

Nantarika Chansue received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree with honors from Chulalongkorn University in 1987 and her Doctor of Philosophy degree from the College of William and Mary, USA in 1994. She was named the director of Chulalongkorn University’s Veterinary Medical Aquatic Animal Research Center in 1989. Professor Nantarika Chansue has dedicated her life as a veterinarian and conservationist to save animal lives and the environment in which they live. She is a charismatic leader who has inspired changes in policy, conservation action, veterinary practices and has worked towards the betterment of social practices towards animals as well as empowering women to develop careers. Her exemplary behavior and practices have inspired many to realize the importance of giving professionally and socially.