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Of Bancas and Coconuts: Conducting Cetacean Research in the Philippines

Thursday, March 14, 2024, 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Join National Geographic Explorer Jom Acebes to learn about the whale and dolphin research she conducts in the Philippines!



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  • Cost: Free
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This event is handicap accessible

Cetacean research in the Philippines is a relatively young field. With only a handful of research projects dedicated to cetaceans, and a few local marine mammal researchers covering the vast coastline of 7,641 islands with 28 species of marine mammals known to occur to date, it is a challenging and exciting field to be in. Jom Acebes will be giving an overview of her cetacean research, while highlighting her research on humpback whales in the Babuyan marine corridor in northern Philippines. This research began in 2000 and is by far the longest-running continuous cetacean research in the country.

Jom will also be sharing the challenges faced while working in fairly remote islands with basic facilities, equipment and limited resources. Relying mainly on small grants, donations and volunteers, she and her team have managed to generate significant data which contributes not only to the dearth of knowledge on cetaceans in the Philippines but has also provided data for better understanding of some of the endangered, threatened and little-known cetacean species in the world.

About the Presenter

Jo Marie (Jom) Acebes is the Founder and Principal Investigator of a non-profit organization called BALYENA.ORG, with a mission to support the conservation of whales and dolphins and their natural habitats in the Philippines through research, education and capacity-building. Jom began her career in research and marine conservation at World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Philippines as the Project Leader of the Cetacean Research and Conservation Project in 2000. It was under WWF-Philippines that she started the study on humpback whales in the Babuyan Marine Corridor in the Philippines. After leaving WWF, she continued this research by establishing BALYENA.ORG and it is currently the longest-running, continuous cetacean research in the Philippines.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the Ateneo de Manila University, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of the Philippines at Los Baños, a Master of Science in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management from the University of Oxford and a PhD in Marine Environmental History from Murdoch University, Perth. Her interests range from marine mammal population biology and conservation, cetacean-human interactions, biodiversity conservation, wildlife medicine, to historical and current fisheries for large marine vertebrates. She has worked in both the NGO and government sectors, as well as the academe. Until recently she was a Senior Museum Researcher at the Zoology Division of the National Museum of the Philippines.

Jom is a National Geographic Explorer; Fulbright Scholar; member of the IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group; member of the IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force and a member of the Philippine Aquatic Red List Committee – Subcommittee on Cetaceans and Subcommittee on Elasmobranchs.

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