Show me the fish-y! The American Fisheries Society Conference 2016

Hello from across the pond! This blog post is coming from the USA where I have been visiting the American Fisheries Society (ASF) conference courtesy of the wonderful student scholarship exchange program with the Fisheries Society of the British Isles (FSBI). After a long flight over amazing scenery and transfer at San Francisco (which I made, although my bag had other ideas!) I arrived in sunny Kansas City. Luckily, after jetting around the country on three additional flights (via Santa Barbra and Chicago), my suitcase decided to visit Kansas City too! *phew

Stunning views & baggage detours

The AFS annual conference is possibly the largest gathering of fish biologists in the world with approximately 1500 attendees! The conference changes venues each year, so for 2016 we were based in the Show Me State of Missouri, in Kansas City. Apparently this year there was a slightly lower abundance of fish enthusiasts (it seems the coastal locations are always the most popular) but this has easily been the largest conference I have ever seen!

AFS conference at Kansas City

Over the course of the conference I have been presenting my research on ocean sunfish distribution patterns and a poster on the depth use of the Molidae family, all of which was really well received! Aside from talking sunfish, I’ve been using every moment to attend the incredible dedicated sessions from learning more on tagging pelagic fish, to tackling invasive species and even designing social media strategies for scientists! The conference provided a wonderful whirlwind of a week filled with friendly people, inspiring science and in an amazing location.

Sunfish poster & stunning views

Alongside the science, the conference provided a great place to meet scientists from all over the world at the differing social events. From the first night where >1000 people mingled over invasive Asian carp tacos (yum) & fish hotdogs (not entirely convinced…), to the last delicious giant BBQ for all attendees in the enormous historic Union Station under an electrical storm!

AFS legendary socials!

I have to admit, I was really nervous turning up at such a huge conference on my own (especially after travelling for 2 days without clean clothes *thanks United), but the fish world is such a friendly place and despite my scruffy attire, after walking in the door, I never looked back! If anyone is debating whether to attend next year’s conference, I would whole-heartedly recommend it! The Florida team gave a great presentation to welcome us to their hometown for 2017 and it looks to be another great one and I would definitely love to go, so better get back to some science for next year’s presentation!

‘Till next year!

I would just like to express my particular thanks to everyone at the AFS for making me feel so welcome, particularly Bob Hughes, Ron Essig, Zach Penney, Patrick Cooney and Iain Barber.

As always, if anyone has found a dead sunfish, has any questions about my research or would just like updates on the project please feel free to contact me either in the comments section or through these channels:

Email: nphillips01@qub.ac.uk

Twitter: @sunfishresearch

Instagram: SunfishResearch

 

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