I just returned from the 39th annual meeting of the Pacific Seabird Group. The setting for the meeting this year was at Turtle Bay Resort, in Haleiwa, Hawaii (northern shore of Oahu). It had been about 9 years since the last time I was at a PSG meeting, so I was thrilled to be given the chance to re-connect with old friends and meet new seabird biologists. The scientific program theme for this year’s conference was “Tropical Seabirds”, and was one of the largest PSG programs ever, with 144 oral presentations and 56 posters. Each day began with a plenary speaker, all of them excellent: Dr. Matthieu LeCorre (“Migration strategies of seabirds of the tropical Indian Ocean”), Dr. John Cooper (“Conservation and restoration of islands in the Southern Ocean”), and Dr. Jeffrey Polovina (“Recent changes at the top and bottom of the Central North Pacific subtropical ecosystem”). I gave two oral presentations, “Post-release monitoring of Western Grebes using implanted satellite transmitters” and “Shared sensitivities to environmental variation as a tool for threatened species management”. In addition, I was one of the student judges, so I was kept pretty busy running from room to room to catch talks and reading posters. I must say, though, I was very impressed with the quality of the student talks and posters.
The week flew by, but I did get a chance to see a Hawaiian monk seal (photo below), Laysan albatross, and a few Red-footed boobies flying by. Since the monk seals are critically endangered, with only about 1060 individuals (NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service website), all sightings of seals are reported. The seal I saw is an adult female known as R016, or Right Spot, named as such because of the spot that this animal has on her back. It was also relatively easy to see humpback whales breaching if you kept your eyes on the horizon and past the breakers. The last day of the meeting they had a Fun Run as a fundraiser for albatross conservation. I participated in this, and the idea was to “catch the albatross”, who was this incredibly fast guy wearing an albatross hat. Given that his slowest pace was faster than my fastest pace, I didn’t have much of a chance to catch him, but it was a fun way to end the week anyway. Overall, it was a truly inspiring conference and location.