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IMATA Conservation Fund

Funds Awarded

Year: 2023
Organization: National Marine Mammal Foundation: The Ridgway Fund
Award Amount: $7,486.50
Description: The Ridgway Fund supports cutting-edge research that protects wild dolphins, whales and other marine mammals, funds bold conservation work to save critically endangered species, makes it possible for the National Marine Mammal Foundation to collaborate with scientists around the globe, helps evaluate human impacts/environmental changes on marine mammals, and encourages young students to pursue an education and career in science. To learn more, please CLICK HERE.


Year: 2021
Organization: Aquarium of Niagara
Award Amount: $3000.00
Description: Due to anthropogenic disturbances, most penguin populations are in decline. Although birds are known for their visual and acoustic capabilities, evidence suggests that olfaction may play a more important role in avian communication than previously suspected, especially in seabirds. Preen oil, secreted from the uropygial gland, is used during preening and contributes to feather maintenance and odor. Previous studies have found interspecific differences in composition of preen oil odor profiles and intraspecific variation in profile abundance associated with population, sex, and individual identity; this suggests that preen oil odor may act as a chemical cue or signal in social and reproductive behavior. We propose a pilot study to analyze the preen oil odor profiles of Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) at the Aquarium of Niagara. This study will be the first to analyze the volatile chemical composition of penguin preen oil to determine whether odor profiles are unique to individuals. This analysis is the first step in determining whether preen oil odor contains chemical information that could function as a signal for intraspecific communication. This study will enable further investigation into the role of olfaction in social and reproductive behavior in penguins, an area of research that is poorly understood. An improved understanding of chemosignaling in penguins has the potential to impact institutional breeding programs and conservation efforts for their wild counterparts.


Year: 2014
Organization: The Himalaya
Award Amount: $2,000.00
Description: The Himalaya is non-profit and independent non-government organization established for scientific research of mountain resources that are distributed from high mountain to low land eco region of Nepal Himalaya. Since 2009, the Himalaya has been partnering with the Forestry Research & Nature Development Society on a research project to understand the conservation status and threats of river dolphins in Nepal.
Resulting Publications: (click to download): 
Paudel, S., Pal, P., Cove, M. V., Jnawali, S. R., Abel, G., Koprowski, J. L., Ranabhat, R.  (2015). The Endangered Ganges River dolphin Platanista gangetica gangetica in Nepal: abundance, habitat and conservation threats. Endangered Species Research, 29, 59-68.

Paudel, S., Levesque, J. C., Saavedra, C., Pita, C., Pal, P. (2016). Characterization of the artisanal fishing communities in Nepal and potential implications for the conservation and management of Ganges River Dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica). PeerJ, 4:e1563.


Year: 2012
Organization: Wuhan Baiji Conservation Foundation
Award Amount: $3,000
Description: The Wuhan Baiji Conservation Foundation aims to protect the endangered Yangtze river cetaceans, the baiji and the Yangtze finless porpoise from extinction and to make the Yangtze as their permanent paradise for living by rehabilitating their habitats, reducing various human effects, establishing ex situ protected populations, raising public awareness and involvement, and supporting basic research.



The International Marine Animal Trainers Association Conservation Fund was founded in 2011 to provide financial support for third-party non-profit organization projects which focus on conservation-oriented issues and promote communication, professionalism, and cooperation among those who serve marine mammal science through training, public display, research, husbandry, conservation and education.