#65: 36th Annual IMATA Conference

The International Marine Animal Trainers' Association (IMATA) is a collection of members that work, or aspire to work with, marine animals through training for public display and/or research. It is an organization that everyone in our Marine Mammal department belongs to and one that has been a big part of my professional career. Each year, members of IMATA meet for a week-long conference to exchange knowledge, network, attend workshops, and listen to presentations on a variety of topics.

This year Patty, Jenny, and I had the opportunity to attend the conference, which was hosted by Dolphin Discovery in Cancun, Mexico. In addition to being members of IMATA, Patty and I serve as Committee Chairs (I am the Merchandise Chair and Patty is the Finance Co-Chair) and as a result, we went down a few days early to attend the Board of Directors Meetings. While meetings in Cancun may seem like an oxymoron, it is during these meetings that IMATA's future is planned so it can be exciting; plus any time you get a number of animal trainers in a room, it's sure to be interesting!

We listened to 40 great presentations covering such varied topics a Stellar sea lions participating in a hearing test, stingray enrichment, use of honey as wound management in dolphins, turtle training, and the roles trainers and vet staff play in the care of a pregnant grey seal. There were also a number of great poster presentations on subjects like dolphin and seal painting techniques and manatee training, just to name a few. There was a career fair where you could have your resume reviewed and edited and also learn about many different aquariums, zoos and animal parks.

Dolphin Discovery also provided us the opportunity to spend the entire day at their facility at Isla Mujeres. There were many activities to choose from. We could participate in a dolphin or manatee interaction program, attend workshops or snorkel the nearby reef. I had the opportunity to meet Audrey and as you can see, I had a blast!

Each conference is different and I always leave inspired. While I enjoy every minute of the conference, I find myself excited to get back to the Aquarium to share all of the great ideas and knowledge I have acquired. This year I had another reason to be excited to get back--the New England Aquarium will be the host for the 2010 IMATA conference and I was eager to start planning. Just like we use this blog as a way to share with you what we do in our department, hosting the 2010 IMATA conference will give us the opportunity to show our peers first hand what we have accomplished here! With such great animals though, the only question is...where do we start?

- Erin


1 comment:

  1. My grandmother used honey as wound management on us kids! How cool that they are trying it with dolphins! Soundslike an awesome conference!


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