October 10th & 11th 2016

Hosted by Pavia University, Italy

After a successful seminar in 2014 we are delighted to announce the dates for the 2nd Marine Mammal Biology & Conservation Seminar.

Il secondo seminario su biologia e conservazione dei mammiferi marini intende presentare a un pubblico prevalentemente universitario le aree di ricerca più consolidate ed attive in Italia e nel Mediterraneo. Sono presentate relazioni sia da istituti e ricercatori affermati da tempo che da giovani ricercatori che hanno iniziato ad occuparsi di cetacei in ambito universitario e hanno poi continuato ad occuparsene in diversi ambiti professionali e istituzionali. Il seminario intende illustrare non solo i risultati conseguiti ma anche le opportunità di ricerca, di studio e di volontariato in un ambito ampiamente interdisciplinare orientato alla tutela e conservazione dell'ambiente marino.

The second seminar on the biology and conservation of marine mammals intends to present research on the more established and active areas in Italy and the Mediterranean area. Reports from institutions and researchers, as well as presentations by young researchers who have started to address cetacean studies at the universities and continued to deal with them at various professional and institutional levels. The seminar aims to illustrate not only the achievements, but also the opportunities for research, study and volunteering in a broad interdisciplinary area oriented to the protection and preservation of the marine environment.

More information on the Centro Interdisciplinare di Bioacustica e Ricerche Ambientali can be found here

Download Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation Seminar Italy Provisional Program 2016

Download Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation Seminar Italy Provisional Flyer 2016

More information on REGISTRATION can be found below the speakers and abstracts.

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Gianni Pavan MSc is Presidente del Centro Interdisciplinare di Bioacustica e Ricerche Ambientali, Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e dell’Ambiente dell’Università di Pavia. Docente di Bioacustica per la Laurea Magistrale in Scienze della Natura e per la Laurea Magistrale in Biologia Sperimentale e Applicata. Laureato in Scienze Naturali all'Università di Pavia nel 1983, si occupa principalmente di bioacustica terrestre e marina applicata alla conservazione della natura con particolare riguardo per l’ambiente marino e i mammiferi marini. Le attività di ricerca, iniziate con lo studio del canto degli uccelli e dei suoni emessi da pesci e insetti, si sono sviluppate soprattutto sulla bioacustica subacquea e l’oceanografia acustica per lo studio e la tutela dei mammiferi marini. Ha collaborato a numerosi progetti internazionali e partecipato a decine di crociere di ricerca. Le tematiche di studio attuali riguardano lo studio e la tutela dei paesaggi sonori nonché lo sviluppo di tecniche di studio delle emissioni acustiche animali. Dal 2006 dirige la Banca Dati Nazionale sugli Spiaggiamenti di Mammiferi Marini e collabora con ACCOBAMS e altre organizzazioni internazionali per lo studio e la riduzione del rumore subacqueo. More information can be found on CIBRA and Marine Mammal Dept. Università di Pavia
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Bruno Cozzi DMV PhD has been postdoctoral fellow at the Universities of San Antonio (Texas, USA), and Copenhagen (Denmark), visiting scientist at the Uniformed Services University of Bethesda (Maryland, USA), and at the Université of Tours (France). In 2002 he founded the Mediterranean marine mammal tissue Bank. His scientific production is focused mainly on comparative neuroendocrinology and neuroanatomy of large domestic herbivores, marine mammals, and man. Since 1999 he is full professor of veterinary anatomy at the University of Padova.
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Simone Panigada PhD is Chair of the Scientific Committee of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area (ACCOBAMS) , Vice President of Tethys Research Institute, member of the Scientific and Technical Committee of the Pelagos Sanctuary, the Italian Delegation to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission and the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group. He has been Chair of the European Cetacean Society between 2007 and 2012. He holds a degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Milan and a Ph.D. in Environmental Biology obtained in 2002 from the University of Siena. In recent years, since 2009 , has been involved in estimates of abundance and density of cetacean populations in the central Mediterranean, organizing a series of aerial surveys, both in winter and summer. He has been scientific director of two satellite projects aimed at marking fin whales in the Pelagos Sanctuary (summer 2012) and off the coast of Lampedusa in the Channel of Sicily (winter 2013 and 2014 ). Author of over 30 scientific publications and more than 70 presentations at national and international conferences, he speaks Italian, English, and basic French.
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Sabina Airoldi graduated in Natural Sciences, has started to carry out research on cetaceans in 1987. She has worked with the Mediterranean Fin Whale Program for some years and has contributed to the founding and management of one of the main cetacean research and conservation programs carried out by the Tethys Research Institute in the Mediterranean Sea, the Ionian Dolphin Project. She has founded and directed (from 1996) the SLOPE – Squid Loving Odontocetes ProjEct, a long term research program on the social and behavioural ecology of the Odontocetes living in the Western Ligurian Sea. In addition to the scientific work she is also involved in public awareness activities, having held several lectures during popular meetings and numerous television appearances. A number of popular articles and pictures have been published by magazines and newspapers. Member of the Board, from 1996 to 2000 and from 2001 to 2013, she is the director of the Cetacean Sanctuary Research and a member of the list of national experts in cetacean conservation, as additional members of the Scientific Committee of ACCOBAMS.
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Antonella Arcangeli BSc has a bachelor degree with honors in Natural Sciences in '93 at the University “la Sapienza” of Rome with a thesis on the interaction between the coastal bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and fishing activities in the area of ​​G. Aranci (Sardinia-Italy). She continued research in the following years deepening the study on bottlenose dolphin’s behaviour in different locations in Italy and Australia. Since 2007, as a researcher in ISPRA (ex-APAT) coordinates a network of cetacean monitoring along fixed transects in the Mediterranean basin, using ferries as platform of observation: the Fixed Line Transect Mediterranean Monitoring Network is an international project that intend to contribute to the legislative and conservation requirements collecting synoptic multidisciplinary data on cetaceans, sea turtles, other marine macro-fauna and some of the main threats (maritime traffic and marine litter).
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Massimiliano Rosso PhD has been carrying out marine mammals research projects since 2002, mainly in the NW Mediterranean Sea. He is the principal investigator of a long-term photo-identification study on the poorly known Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) population in the Pelagos area, carried out by CIMA Research Foundation. His expertise includes cetacean stocks assessment, population structure and dynamics - with special attention to deep diving cetacean populations ecology. Part of his applied research is focused on the improvement of photo-id / photogrammetric techniques through the use of UAS.
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Francesco Caruso PhD studied Marine Biology and Ecology at University of Messina, obtained the maximum marks in both bachelor and master degrees. Since the first years at University, he showed a great interest on the acoustic behavior of the cetacean species present in the Mediterranean Sea. During his entire student carrier, he received the supervision of the Professor Gianni Pavan (Centro Interdisciplinare di Bioacustica e Ricerche Ambientali, University of Pavia). In 2009, he attended a multidisciplinary research team involved in underwater acoustics at the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN-LNS, Italy), under the supervision of Dr. Giorgio Riccobene. At INFN-LNS, he worked on the installation of seafloor multidisciplinary stations in operation in Eastern Sicily (Italy), within European and National projects as EMSO, SMO and KM3NeT. His doctoral was focused on the implementation and test of new technologies for underwater bioacoustics research in deep-sea environment. From 2014, he works also in collaboration with the Bioacoustics Lab of the National Research Council (Italy) and with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (MA, United States).
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Eva Carpinelli BSc. has a bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences and Technology, and a Master’s in Nature Conservation and Management, from the University of Pavia, Italy. She collaborate with the Tethys Institute from the 2007. Eva is currently involved in a study of sperm whale movements in the Mediterranean Sea using photo-identification in collaboration with several groups. She is lives in Spain, in the Strait of Gibraltar where works as guide and environmental educator on board of the whale watching company Turmares and collaborate with the research group CIRCE. She is involved in activities relating to nature conservation and public awareness, particularly with regard to animal rights. Eva participated in to many conservation animals project all around the planet and she help animal right organisation such PETA People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in United States and Animal Liberation Victoria in Australia. As a lover of sea, Eva is a qualified scuba diver, and has also worked on sailing boats in Sardinia and Australia. With her backpacker spirit, she never misses an opportunity to visit new places or meet new people. She enjoys cooking, good company and cetacean talks. From 2013 she has a lovely daughter, Nerea.
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Alice Briola BSc has a bachelor degree in Biological Science at the University of Pavia with a data-sharing thesis based on photo-Identification and bioacoustics analysis, to investigate the growth of the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) and its movements around the Mediterranean Sea; Gianni Pavan, Eva Carpinelli and Sabina Airoldi were her supervisors. She joined various lectures in Spain (Vigo, SEC_2015) and Portugal (Olhão, MARES_2016) trying to implement her studies about the sperm whale. She took part to one scientific cruise with Tethys Research Institute for the project CSR (Cetaceans Sanctuary Research, Ligurian Sea, IT) and she has continued her researches on cetaceans studying the population of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) in Algeciras Bay (Strait of Gibraltar, ES) with CIRCE (Conservation, Information and Research on Cetaceans) and taking part to whale watching cruises with TURMARES in Tarifa (Strait of Gibraltar, ES). She is now studying Marine Science at the University of Genoa, doing fieldwork regarding diving, oceanography and marine zoology in Genoa and the Levantine areas.
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Davide Lelong has a BSc in Biological Science attained at University of Pavia on September of 2015. He concentrates his studies on cetacean acoustics. He participated to different volunteer projects on marine mammals biology. In the Falkland Islands, he worked as a volunteer on the demography of elephant seal and the behavior and identification of the killer whales of Seal Lion Island. In Spain, he volunteered on the creation of catalogues of the population of common dolphins of the bay of Algeciras. Even if at the beginning, he is concentrating his studies on the bioacoustics of cetaceans, especially the least known.
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Sabrina Brando BSc is a psychologist with a MSc in Animal Studies, interested in the human-animal interaction. She is the owner of AnimalConcepts and works world wide in the field of animal welfare and animal advocacy. She has in interest in animal welfare, particularly from the 24/7 across lifespan approach, how various systems and working methods affect animals short-and long-term. Sabrina has been working on captive marine mammal topics such as environmental enrichment, training and welfare as well as training, though positive reinforcement, a variety of marine mammals species for research projects concerning behaviour and physiology. Publications on marine mammal training and welfare can be found here. Sabrina is involved in various research and writing projects on animal cognition, behaviour and welfare.


Gianni Pavan MSc.

The impact of noise on marine life

The awareness that manmade noise can affect marine life, marine mammals in particular, has grown in recent years, mainly in the context of naval sonars and seismic surveys. While most interest in the effects of anthropogenic noise has focused on marine mammals (mainly cetaceans and pinnipeds) and a few other vertebrates, there is increasing evidence for the impact of such noise on fish and marine invertebrates. This issue will need further research, which should also take into consideration the ecological direct and indirect effects on the whole food web and on fisheries. In particular, research is needed to better understand the acoustic mediated effects of noise on the behaviour and biology of all marine creatures. Acoustic impacts on the marine environment need to be addressed through a comprehensive and transparent research, management and regulatory system that includes all sources of noise, whether continuous and ubiquitous (such as shipping) or localized in space and time (sonars, seismic surveys, offshore and coastal construction works, scientific experiments, etc.). This system should address chronic and acute anthropogenic noise, long-term and short-term effects, cumulative and synergistic effects, and impacts on individuals and populations. An overview of noise issue will be presented along with a spot view on the most advanced research cases.

Dr. Bruno Cozzi DVM

Breathing air, living in water

The lungs are far more efficient than the gills, and dolphin and whales extract O2 from air in their alveolar complex just as we do. However the physics of gas solved in mammalian tissues requires certain structural and metabolic adaptations to avoid hypercapnea, decompression syndrome, short-term central nervous system damage, long-term skeletal injuries, and drowning. The seminar will examine the key anatomical and physiological respiratory, circulatory and metabolic solutions evolved in dolphins (and whales) to survive the challenging liquid environment.

Dr. Simone Panigada

Satellite telemetry applied to Mediterranean fin whales to identify critical habitats and mitigate threats

Mediterranean fin whales constitute an isolated sub-population, listed as Vulnerable (VU) in the IUCN Red List, and ships strikes represent their main cause of human-induced mortality. The identification of critical habitats is therefore essential to channel conservation efforts. Thirteen fin whales were equipped with location-only satellite transmitters: eight in the Pelagos Sanctuary, a summer feeding ground, and five in the Strait of Sicily, where whales congregate, notably for feeding purposes, during winter. A Bayesian hierarchical switching state-space model was used to identify transiting and area-restricted search (ARS) behaviours, and to gain insight into movement patterns and habitat use. All whales undertook mid- to long-distance migrations, crossing some of the world’s busiest maritime routes. Areas where the animals predominantly engaged in ARS behaviour could also be identified. The results suggest how a coordinated and dynamic management scheme is needed to protect Mediterranean fin whales, defining appropriate protected areas within the regional Conventions and emphasising the importance to address conservation issues at the Basin scale.

Sabina Airoldi BSc.

Long-term research and citizen science: 26 years of activities in the Pelagos Sanctuary

Tethys has banked on public involvement since its establishment by inviting the public to assist the researchers in their fieldwork. In 26 years almost 2 thousands of non-specialist volunteers from around the world participated to the Cetacean Sanctuary Research, a long-term project carried out into the Pelagos Sanctuary, sponsoring research and helping to obtain crucial data. Research methods used include population studies based on visual and acoustic surveys, photographic capture-recapture, remote sensing, bioacoustic research, behavioural sampling, remote collection of biopsy samples for genetic and toxicological analyses. Over almost three decades of work, researchers and paying volunteers have generated one of the largest datasets on Mediterranean cetaceans, and communicated the results of its research activities during the most diverse range of meetings, workshops and conferences, as well as in hundreds of scientific publications. Tethys’ involvement of volunteers in its research is amongst the world’s longest standing programmes of citizen science.

Antonella Arcangeli BSc.

Update contribute from the Fixed Line Transect Mediterranean monitoring network on cetacean presence and distribution and relationship with environmental and anthropogenic parameters in central western Mediterranean Sea

Cetaceans are long living wide ranging species, occupying different trophic levels in the food chain, and interacting with many ecological and anthropogenic parameters. They are considered good indicator of ecological status and a large legislative asks for information on species, their interaction with environmental parameters, and the monitoring of the status of populations. Nevertheless, still our knowledge is lacking due to difficulties on delivering the large scale/long term data needed. Since 2007, a research project was renewed, on the basis of a method already used in the ‘90s, using ferries as platforms of observation for systematic research along sampled fixed transects. To date, more than twenty organisations are networking to collect consistent data across the Mediterranean basin. The method allows synoptic monitoring of all cetacean species and some major threats (i.e. maritime traffic and marine litter), delivering high frequency data also in remote high sea areas and during seasons when data are generally scarce. Using some of the data collected within the Fixed Line Transect Mediterranean monitoring Network, four main issues were explored to contribute filling some of the main knowledge gaps: 1) the spatio-temporal variability of cetacean species, especially in remote still largely unexplored areas of medium W-Mediterranean latitudes; 2) the migration pattern of fin whale; 3) the rare and elusive Cuvier’s beaked whale; and 4) the impact of maritime traffic on cetaceans.

Dr. Massimiliano Rosso

Unmanned Aerial Systems in marine mammal studies.

Conventional aircrafts have been successfully used for monitoring and management of wildlife. However, as research budgets shrink and technology rapidly advances, scientists are looking to utilize unmanned aerial systems (UAS) as a safer and more cost-effective alternative for conducting low-altitude wildlife and ecological survey. In recent years, UAS operations have been integrated into numerous field studies involving a variety of species, including cetaceans. However, the relatively new use of UAS in marine mammal research presents additional challenges, particularly within the scope of their potential to impact marine mammals. Here, we present i) an introduction to the various designs of UAS platforms in operation, Fixed-wing (FW) systems and Vertical takeoff and landing systems (VTOL); ii) the different uses of UAS in marine mammal research (e.g. photogrammetry, biological sampling, etc.); iii) a synthesis of the current state of scientific understanding of the impacts of UAS usage near marine mammals; iv) a summary of the drones regulation enforced in Italy.

Dr. Francesco Caruso

Deep-sea multidisciplinary observatories for the long-term passive acoustic monitoring of cetaceans.

The INFN (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare) operates deep-sea multidisciplinary observatories offshore Eastern Sicily (Ionian Sea), in collaboration with INGV (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia) and CIBRA (Centro Interdisciplinare di Bioacustica e Ricerche Ambientali, University of Pavia). The collaboration, signed at a regional, national and European level, has promoted the installation of two cabled deep-sea infrastructures: the Catania node (2100 m depth, 25 km offshore the harbour of Catania) and the Capo Passero node (3500 m depth, 100 km offshore Portopalo di Capo Passero). In 2005, for the first time in the area, the NEMO-OνDE station (Ocean Noise Detection Experiment) allowed the Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) of cetaceans. The experiment aimed, primarily, at studying acoustic noise for applications in astroparticle physics, but it had significant follow-ups in marine bioacoustics. Since 2012, the sensors installed within the EMSO (European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and water column Observatory) and SMO (Submarine Multidisciplinary Observatory) projects enable surveys on the acoustic behaviour of several cetacean species. New information on the occurrence and ecology of dolphins, fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) and sperm whales (Physeter microcephalus) were obtained. Moreover, the acoustic arrays deployed are allowing the long term monitoring of underwater noise in relation to cetacean biodiversity.

Eva Carpinelli BSc.

Movements of sperm whales beyond the Pelagos Sanctuary

The Pelagos Sanctuary is a large Marine Protected Area in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea devoted to the protection of cetaceans. However, the home range of some species, such as the sperm whale, may extend beyond its boundaries. A detailed picture of the distribution and movements of sperm whales is therefore necessary in order to understand how the Pelagos Sanctuary - and its conservation regime - compare with the home range of this species. For this purpose, the photo-ID catalogue for the Western Ligurian Sea was compared with the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sperm Whale Catalogue (NAMSC) and with the catalogues available from different Mediterranean sectors not included in the NAMSC database: (a) the Corso-Provençal Basin (b) the Balearic Islands, (c) the Alboran Sea, (d) the Strait of Gibraltar, (e) the Eastern and the (f) Western Tyrrhenian Seas, (g) the Strait of Messina and (h) the Hellenic Trench. Of the 148 sperm whales identified in the Western Ligurian Sea, a total of 60 animals were photographically recaptured in other sectors of the Mediterranean Sea in different years indicating long-range movements of the species throughout the basin. The absence of any photographic recaptures between the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean supports the genetic evidence of a distinct sub-population. By reviewing some already published data (matches with the Strait of Gibraltar until the 2011, the Corso-Provençal Basin, the Balearic Islands and the Hellenic Trench) and extending the already existing collaboration network among different institutions, the present study further emphasises the importance of sharing photo-ID data within an unified catalogue which provides a strategic tool to evaluate the population size, dispersion ability, and long-term trends of this “Endangered” subpopulation.

Alice Briola BSc.

Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) growth studied by joining photo-id and acoustic recordings

The Mediterranean sperm whale is a sub-population considered endangered according to the IUCN criteria, hence it is necessary to study its ecology, population structure, distribution and movements to implement appropriate conservation strategies. This study points out the importance of the multidisciplinary approach, combining photo-identification and bioacoustics analysis, both non-invasive techniques, to study movements and body growth of the sperm whale. Data sharing between different research institutes in Mediterranean Sea allows to update the information about four sperm whales size estimated, photo-identified and recorded in the Ligurian Sea by CIBRA during almost twenty years. They have been searched in photo-id catalogues available from other areas of the Mediterranean Sea: two of the individuals have been recaptured photographically in the Western Ligurian Sea (Tethys Research Institute), one of them occurred also in the Gulf of Lion (EcoOcèan Institute). CIBRA and Tethys performed acoustic recording of the photo-identified whales by means of a towed array of hydrophones. It was possible to retrieve the original recordings and to accurately measure the Inter Pulse Interval of the recorded sperm whales’ clicks by using cepstral techniques. The IPI measure in different years allows to estimate the size and the body growth of the recorded whales photographically recaptured. The two individuals use the Pelagos Sanctuary as feeding area during the summer, and measure less than 13 meters: the growth rate would fit the curve of asymptotic limit. These results are consistent with previous studies of photogrammetry and growth-rates in the North Western Mediterranean Sea. It is envisaged to integrate the work done with new data from other research groups for further study, since so far just a limited amount of data has been analysed.

Davide Michel Lelong BSc.

Cetacean vocalisations: which are the least studied species?

The research have profusely demonstrated that sound plays a critical role in the life of cetaceans. The sounds they produce are principally aimed to the functions of communication and echolocation. However, with 89 species currently accepted, the knowledge of their vocalisations is dramatically focused only on few species, like common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Here, the attention is focused to show the species whose aspects of their vocalisations are poorly understood or completely absent. The need to increase our knowledge on these species goes beyond the research, but it has also implications in conservation issues. In fact, the deployment of acoustics techniques into the monitoring of species whose conservation status is precarious can increase the success in prevention and conservation procedures.

Sabrina Brando BSc.

Collaborating with captive marine mammals

A wide variety of marine mammals are housed under human care such as seals, sea lions, dolphins, polar bears, otters and harbour porpoises. At least since 1960’s marine mammals have been trained to collaborate in research projects through the use of positive reinforcement training, offering choice and control in a two-way communication system. Behaviour, physiology, cognition, veterinary care and acoustics are among the topics studied. Captive marine mammals can provide insights as well as help solve potential problems and threats facing wild marine mammals. A brief overview of various captive marine mammal research will be presented as well as welfare and ethical considerations.


This seminar will be held in Italian.


Registration includes lectures, coffee / tea breaks and certificate of attendance.

Regular registration Euro 115
Student registration Euro 70 (Fulltime students only)



Central building at the University of Pavia
Seminar room “Aula Foscolo”
Strada Nuova 65
27100 Pavia PV

Participants will receive a confirmation upon reception of the registration form. You are then officially registered. Cancellations received at least 3 month prior to the first day of the conference or workshop will be honoured and fees, if already paid, refunded, less a processing fee. Cancellations made after this date up to 2 months before the start will be refunded at 50% (even if invoice is not yet send and if payment is still outstanding). Cancellations made less then 1 month before the seminar are not refunded (even if invoice is not yet send and if payment is still outstanding). In fairness to all attendees, confirmed participants who do not attend their scheduled workshop or conference are liable for the entire fee unless other arrangements have been made with AnimalConcepts prior to the start of the event. AnimalConcepts is a registered company under Dutch law, and by accepting the cancellation policy at registration you agree and are bound to these laws, regardless of your geographically area. All payments have to be received prior to the start of the seminar, if this is not possible then only a cash payment on the day will allow access to the event.