Northeast Region Stranding Network Conference

Hi all,

As promised, here is my post about our recent Northeast Region Stranding Network Conference (NERS). Each year all the member organizations in our region and both regional and headquarters staff from the NOAA Fisheries Services gather to review protocols, exchange information, participate in training workshops and to network. Also in attendance are members of some of our partner organizations including (but not limited to) the United States Coast Guard and NOAA law enforcement as well as students, network volunteers and interested members of the general public.

Each year a member organization, or several organizations, team up to host the meeting. This year the meeting was hosted by three groups in Maine. The Collage of the Atlantic (which features Allied Whale), The Maine Department of Marine Resources, and the University of New England. The meeting was held in beautiful Bar Harbor Maine.

Adam and I arrived in the late afternoon the day before the conference. We took a short walk around Bar Harbor before heading back to put the finishing polish on our lectures. Below is a photo of the harbor and a group of informative signs strategically placed on the dock against the wall where the line forms for nature cruises.

Below on the left is a photo of the lecture hall with one of our Canadian colleagues presenting. I didn't take too many in the lecture hall as the flash was potentially disruptive to the speakers and the participants. I quickly snapped the photo on the right while the moderator for this session was pulling up Kate's lecture. This is Kate's title slide, which set the stage for an excellent case study on one of our sea turtles. Bottom line - turtle is doing very well and the problem has been resolved.

The closing of our NERS conference always ends with the passing of the baton, or in our case the banner, to next year's host. In the photo below, members from the three agencies in Maine pass our conference banner on to members of the Virginia team who will host this conference next year.

This meeting plays a crucial role in the stranding network. It provides an opportunity to exchange information through lectures, case studies, workshops and networking. Marine mammal and sea turtle stranding events are complicated on many levels. The medical condition of each animal, the geographic location, and the safety of the rescuers and the animals all have to evaluated as quickly as possibly. In addition, working within the scope of the NOAA Fisheries Service permits are all factors for each response. Meetings like this allow us to review the responses that went well and the responses that did not go well and plan, on a local and regional level, for improvements.

Two excellent workshops were provided at this meeting a large whale response workshop and a sea turtle disentanglement workshop. I'll be blogging on those in the next couple days.

- Connie

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