A group of researchers heads for College of the Atlantic’s Edward McC. Blair Marine Research Station on Mount Desert Rock. The college will host the Gulf of Maine and Ocean Life Symposium from May 19-21. PHOTO COURTESY OF RICHARD SASSAMAN

Ocean Life Symposium expected to draw experts

BAR HARBOR — Allied Whale, Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company and the organization Oceanswide are collaborating on the second annual regional Gulf of Maine and Ocean Life Symposium. set to take place from May 19-21. The conference will include 15 presentations over three days on subjects ranging from oceanography to whales.

The first talk is set for Friday, May 19, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Toby Stephenson, local naturalist and past director of the Bar Harbor Whale Museum, will discuss whale evolution in the second floor ballroom of the pool house at the Bar Harbor Club. All subsequent talks, on Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and May 21, will take place in the McCormick Lecture Hall on the campus of College of the Atlantic.

Presentations include a variety of whale talks from Allied Whale staff and an evening keynote presentation by the founder of Oceanswide and deep sea explorer/ROV driver Buzz Scott. University of Maine professors James Gilbert will speak about seals and Rich Langston about fisheries. The research director of Petit Manan Island National Wildlife Refuge, Linda Welch, will talk about seabirds and climate change. Other topics to be discovered include Maine’s edible seaweeds, sharks, ocean fish, sea turtles and the Allied Whale stranding program.

A number of programs will be given by experts traveling from afar. The research coordinator of Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises, Shelley Lonergan, will speak on the marine mammals of Brier Island, Nova Scotia. Jennifer Kennedy, executive director of the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, will present on marine debris and plastics in the ocean. Erin Summers, director of the Division of Biological Monitoring for the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and Colin MacDonald from the Maine Marine Patrol will talk about the state’s marine mammal program and disentanglement.

This symposium was established last year through funding provided by Maine Sea Grant to help improve the quality of education and networking with whale watch tours regionally and with Canadian companies throughout the Bay of Fundy. This year, conference organizers have opened the program up to the public, but the number of people that can attend is limited.

For more information, visit the educational page of the Bar Harbor Whale Watch website for a full list of speakers and presentations. Register for one or more days by calling 288-2386 and talking with lead guide, Zack Klyver, or email [email protected]



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