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The 1st National Indonesian Marine Mammal Stranding Workshop was conducted in Bali from 25 to 28 November 2013 to: 1) increase the capacity of Indonesian and Asian 1st responders in the handling of live stranded marine mammals; 2) increase the understanding of the science behind marine mammal stranding events; 3) provide skills on how to determine the cause of death of marine mammals through necropsy; and 4) strengthen and widen the Indonesian and Asian stranding networks, including  capacity building and public awareness strategies.

This workshop was endorsed by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia; sponsored by Ocean Park Hong Kong, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong, International Whaling Commission, and WWF Indonesia; coordinated by Dr Putu Liza Mustika from Whale Stranding Indonesia and Dr Nimal Fernando from Ocean Park Hong Kong; and supported by the Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center, the Indonesian Veterinary Medical Association and the University of St Andrews Scotland. Mr Agus Dermawan as the Director of the Area and Species Conservation of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries officially opened the event on the evening of 25 November 2013.

The first day of the workshop covers key identifying features of the species most likely to occur in Indonesian and adjacent waters, stranding networks, the basic biology needed to make initial assessments of stranded cetaceans and onshore and in water training for 1st responders, covering several common live-stranded cetacean scenarios. Main mentors were Dr Lindsay Porter (University of St Andrews) & Mr Grant Abel (Ocean Park Hong Kong).

The following two days had a series of lectures covering topics including cetacean anatomy, triage, acoustic trauma, by-catch, acoustics & acoustic pathology, toxicology and cetacean necropsy procedures. Key speakers included Dr Nimal Fernando (Ocean Park Hong Kong) for triage, medicine, acoustic pathology, bycatch pathology, general pathology and necropsy, Dr Simon Northridge (University of St Andrews) for by-catch issues, Dr Pat Fair (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - NOAA) for toxicology, Dr Kathy Larson (Ocean Park Hong Kong) Cetacean Anatomy and Cetacean Disease and Dr Matthias Hoffman-Khunt for acoustics. A wet lab demonstrating general cetacean necropsy procedures and the extraction and preservation of ear bones for the investigation of potential acoustic trauma was conducted on the last day by Dr Nimal Fernando.

The workshop involved 60+ participants from seven countries (30 from Indonesia; the rest were from Malaysia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh) and international speakers from Hong Kong, the USA, UK, and Singapore. Evaluation questionnaires were distributed at the end of the workshop. Of the 39 filled in questionnaires, 37 of them gave grading to the workshop. A total of 21 people (56.8%) said it was "good"; 12 people (32.4%) said it was "very good".  The workshop was considered successful, leading to the plan to conduct regular biennial national workshops in the future.

A first responder and medical management workshop on marine mammal stranding was conducted by PMMSN last November 5 to 7, 2013 in Ocean Adventure at Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Philippines. This workshop was specifically organized to train more veterinarians in the Philippines as, well as first responders, that can respond to a marine mammal stranding anywhere in the country. A total of 38 participants from the different regions of the Philippines and Hong Kong attended the 3-day activity.

From October 5 to 7, 2013, the 1st National Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network(PMMSN) Symposium was hosted by Ocean Adventure in its facilities at Subic Bay, Freeport. Ninety two (92) people representing governmental organizations, local government units (LGUs), non-governmental organizations, and academe participated in this Symposium to share experiences and data, recruit new members, and review the mission and objectives of the PMMSN. (Continue reading)

The February 2013 workshop and training at Subic Bay, in the Philippines, had cleared a path to better develop stranding management in Indonesia. Equipped with the knowledge obtained from Subic Bay, the Indonesian participants have created the national marine mammal stranding protocol and network. The national network is led by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), who has expressed the importance of having regular workshops and training in the Archipelago to better equip first responders, vets and medics on the proper ways to manage stranded marine mammals. Four sites have been scheduled for the first responder trainings, in order to formulate local and provincial networks in 2013: Denpasar (Bali), Kupang (East Nusa Tenggara), West Java and Balikpapan (East Kalimantan).

The Bali and Kupang workshops and training were conducted from the 1st – 2nd May 2013 and the 4th – 5th June 2013, respectively. Both trainings were supported by the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI – Sekar Mira), Whale Stranding Indonesia (Februanty Purnomo), and Conservation International Indonesia (Putu Liza Mustika). By invitation from the MMAF, the University of St Andrews (Lindsay Porter) and Ocean Park Hong Kong (Grant Abel, Nimal Fernando) were also present to support the Bali workshop and training.

In addition to developing provincial stranding networks, the events aimed at giving basic knowledge of marine mammals and stranding rescue to the participants. Building up from the Subic Bay experience, the Indonesia first responder training module was designed to meet the needs of immediate release of stranded marine mammals along the Archipelago, with limited access to sophisticated rescue tools. The hands-on practice module included the lagoon or barrier reef scenario (using hotel pools as the enclosed body of water), single stranding on the beachusing a boat and a small truck to transport the animal, and mass stranding scenario (including how to conduct Triage). These scenarios will later be developed into the national first responder modules for future use in the Archipelago.

With instructors from Ocean Adventure, University of the Philippines, and Hong Kong Ocean Park, 27 participants took part in the Stranding Response workshop and 17 veterinarians took part in the Medical Management workshop. Several non-veterinarians also took part in the Medical Management workshop in order to understand and improve proper stranding management, along with the importance of data collected from necropsies. The workshops consisted of lectures and hands on activities, in order to impart knowledge and skills needed in the emergency first response of stranded marine mammals.

The First Southeast Asian Marine Mammal Stranding Network Symposium, organised by Ocean Adventure, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong and Wildlife in Need in collaboration with the University of Philippines, Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology and the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network, was hosted by Ocean Adventure and the Camayan Beach Resort in the Philippines and took place at the beginning of February. The symposium was attended by 57 participants consisting of stakeholders and experts from the academic community, government, research organisations, oceanariums and non-governmental organisation, from around the Southeast Asian region.

Over 3 days, the participants interacted through presentations, discussions and small group work, with an objective to:

  • Share knowledge and experiences in marine mammal stranding activities and related research;
  • Advance a One World Health view in recognition of marine mammals as valuable sentinels of ocean and human health; and
  • Discuss and plan the formation of a Regional Marine Mammal Stranding Network whose purpose is to disseminate knowledge, best practices and shared experience of marine mammal strandings.