December 2019: About one month after completing my master’s at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, I presented my research on respiration in seals at the World Marine Mammal Conference WMMC’19 in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
With almost 3000 participants, the WMMC’19 was the event-not-to-be-missed for scientists working with seals, whales, and sea cows worldwide. We could choose from a program of 45 workshops (7–8 Dec) to hone our skills and get to know each other. The conference (9–12 Dec) featured 16 themes ranging from Conservation and New Technology to Ecology, Genetics, and – Lucky me! – Physiology.

THE EVENT – 2,731 attendees from nearly 100 countries; 1,640 presentations (203 full talks).
Abstract accepted, ready to roll!
I was one of the 203 researchers selected by the review committee to present their work in a full 12-minute talk. It was an exhilarating experience to share my findings on the harp seal’s respiratory anatomy and physiology (project description) with about 250 of my peers. The feedback I received was positive and inspiring throughout. During this week of intense intellectual exchange (lectures, poster presentations, plenary discussions), I made friends with scientists from Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
Two workshops grabbed my attention: Win more battles for marine mammals!!! Science communication for REAL impact and the 9th International Sirenian Symposium. I learned about effective communication of scientific (generally complex) ideas through storytelling and the use of visuals. – The perfect bridging between my Master’s in Science and my Master’s in Arts. A full day of sirenian science (research on herbivorous marine mammals: dugong and manatees) was my first in-depth encounter with tropical species.

PRESENTING – to over 200 scientists (my largest audience ever). What a great experience! Photo: Chiara Ciccone 
Let’s not forget…
I thank my funding sources for making this stimulating experience possible:
• Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics (BFE) at UiT
• Department of Arctic and Marine Biology (AMB) at UiT
• World Marine Mammal Conference – Student Travel Grant
My heartfelt thanks also to my supervisors. I highly value the advice and support they gave me in the days (and hours!) before my presentation. TAKK skal dere ha!

DIAGONAL MAR – the conference center neighborhood, in the early morning sun. Photo: Sabine Gasper-Mautes

BARCELONA WATERFRONT – one thing to do on a day off in mid-December, “Let’s go to the beach!” Photo: Sabine Gasper-Mautes

EL PEIX – Frank Gehry’s fish sculpture in Port Olímpic. In the spirit of the WMMC, it sure looks like a whale to me! Photo: Sabine Gasper-Mautes

LAST DAY IN TOWN – PORT VELL, the Old Harbor. A perfect place to rest, have coffee, and daydream about my next adventure… Photo: Sabine Gasper-Mautes