Following in the footsteps of Wallace at IMCC5


By Edd Hind-Ozan


At this year’s 5th International Marine Conservation Congress you’ll be able to hear about cutting edge efforts to protect the oceans from leading practitioners in the field. The meeting’s Call for Abstracts is open until March 16, so you also still have a chance to present your work. But, as you surely know, attending a conference is about so much more than the meeting itself. It’s also a chance to explore a place you’ve never been before. As a conservation biologist, what better place to explore than the one that Alfred Russell Wallace was himself exploring when writing his seminal, On the Law Which Has Regulated the Introduction of New Species?

The man, the myth, the legend himself, Alfred Russell Wallace (© London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company)


Wallace’s The Malay Archipelago describes his wild adventures in Borneo (© Macmillan).


Yes! IMCC5 is being held in Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo, where Wallace developed his theory of evolution, in the process of collecting 25,000 insect species and performing taxidermy on orangutans (in the name of science!). While relaxing between congress sessions in Sarawak’s leafy capital, Kuching, you’ll be able to wander over to the Natural History Museum where some of his collections are still held. In addition, the IMCC5 field trips will allow you to explore the forests, rivers, and coasts that inspired Wallace into writing his much celebrated travel book, The Malay Archipelago.

A young scientist following in the footsteps of Wallace at the Natural History Museum in Kuching, and your IMCC5 Chair (© Edd Hind-Ozan).


The field trips, which you will be able to sign up for when registration opens, include visits to Semenggoh Wildlife Center to see orangutans in the wild, as well as the rainforests and mangroves of the world-famous known Bako National Park where you can see strangling figs, carnivorous pitcher plants, and symbiotic ant plants, as well as long-tailed macaque monkeys, wild boar, flying squirrels, and monitor lizards. Of course, it’s a marine conference, so you’ll be able to chill with the very charismatic Irrawaddy dolphins on our Mangrove and Dolphin Cruise too!


We probably should be using an image showing the marine life you’ll see at IMCC5, BUT IT’S A FREAKIN’ ORANGUTAN!!! (© Edd Hind-Ozan).

So at IMCC5 this summer: hear science, be science, and walk in the footsteps of science! Find out more about what you can get up to while in Kuching on our congress website.


Edward Hind-Ozan is the IMCC5 Chair and Vice President of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) Marine Section.



Tips and Tricks for Getting to IMCC5


by Travis Nielsen


Getting to IMCC5 can be a long and complicated journey. From most parts of the world, it takes at least two flights to get there and you may have to cover a series of costs for accommodation, food, and other incidentals along the way. If you’re lucky, your school or business will reimburse the money you spend to go, but you will likely still pay upfront. In my years of extensive traveling and many trips to Kuching as the Meeting Manager, I have learned a few tricks that may help plan a great conference trip, without succumbing to the pitfalls!


#1 Plan ahead and plan well.

Though I realize this isn’t always possible, if you know in advance what you want to do, then plan ahead as much as you can. Research the location, travel documents, ticket prices, accommodations, food, etc. The more time you spend planning, the better prepared you will be. Plus, you may find deals or someone to share the expense. If you can’t plan ahead, then plan well. You can at least prioritize the things that matter most, such as travel restrictions, booking plenty of time to get to your destination without rushing, or knowing which airlines charge for food. You may arrive a day early with a soggy sandwich in your carry on, but it’s better than arriving stressed out, tired, and starving only to be refused entry. To help you with planning your flights, click here for information on flying into Kuching.


Airport travel can sometimes be a nightmare, but it doesn’t have to! A little planning can go a long way to avoiding crowds like these (© Matt Tietbohl)

#2 NEVER book the first option or what you’re told to book without checking.

If you are paying for things always, ALWAYS see if there is a creative solution to your travel. Is it cheaper to book as a round trip? A series of one-way tickets? Are certain airports cheaper to fly through than others? Are there hostels nearby? Is it cheaper to book a few days early? If you are being reimbursed, then your business will appreciate you making it as cost effective as possible. It’s easier than you think, use sites like or Expedia, you can get reasonable prices with experimenting. I recommend checking on the costs of flights between 6 months and 6 weeks from your desired flight date, this is usually when you find the best prices.


#3 Create a budget.

If you don’t track the money you spend at a conference, you will spend WAY more than you intended. Malaysia’s currency is the Ringgit (Currency Code MYR).  Figure out if you can use your bank or credit cards in the country. Figure out if there are fees for using your cards in foreign currencies (Almost all banks have a foreign exchange or “FX” fee). Cards are the safest, as they can be cancelled, have fraud/identity theft protection, and new cards can be express mailed to you. Sometimes you are going to need cash and should bring some (see note on cash below). Remember to keep all your receipts and keep an eye on your spending. Foreign cash sometimes gets spent faster because we don’t connect to the value of the currency to its economic system, as we are so used to our own economic system. For major expenses (hotel costs, car rental, in country flights, etc.) plan to pay them in advance, as it’s easier to deal with ahead of time. However, use caution when paying in advance; if you get scammed it can cost you. Using third party payment systems like credit cards or PayPal to book these expenses and then paying on site with is an effective strategy, as this guarantees that you get the service you asked for, and if you don’t, you can cancel the payment.


#4 Book your accommodations well in advance.

It’s an easy thing to put off for another day, but then a day turns into a week, which then turns into a month or two. Before you know it, you are frantically searching and may end up with a place that’s more than you wanted to pay, and far away from the conference site. Booking early can get you deals on your accommodations and can save you from worrying about how you are going to get to the conference for that early morning presentation you have (it’s always happens). For IMCC5, we are offering some great options through our venue – The Waterfront Hotel Kuching – or our secondary hotel – The Ranee Boutique Hotel – are extremely high-quality locations and have very affordable prices. Please make sure to book early through the IMCC5 website.


#5 Always try to relax and let go of any travel anxiety.

This is usually easier with a little pre-trip planning. Planes break down, things get delayed, people can’t control the weather, and things just happens. If you go with the flow, it makes it a whole lot easier. Once you get to the conference, keep a similar mindset, as the same things will happen. Talks will get delayed, people will do things that bother you, and some things will be completely outside the control of the organizers. Being able to let go will do wonders for your mind!  A minor caveat – just because you are relaxed doesn’t mean you should let people push you around. There is a difference between the weather shutting down a flight and an airline overbooking a flight and demanding people get off a flight.


Travel can be stressful, so be sure to take time to enjoy the calmer moments of travel, like this view from a plane (© Matt Tietbohl)

#6 Be kind.

Airport staff, security people, and everyone else in between are people just like you trying to do their best. These staff have usually endured a whole pile of frustration and abuse at the hands of other people who have no respect for the difficulty of these jobs. Show them some kindness: be polite and show some sympathy for their plight and you will not regret it. They may not be able to give you the first-class treatment, but they will do a lot more for you than those other abusive plebeians.

As always, feel free to give us an email or contact us through social media if you have questions about scheduling your way to IMCC5 this summer. We also have more information on our website that may be of use!


**Note on Cash – If you bring cash, research basic costs, like how much it costs for food, a meal at a restaurant, lodgings, cell phone sim card, etc. This will give you a reasonable estimate of what you need to bring for cash. From there figure out how to buy the currency. Malaysia allows you to purchase the currency from your bank at home, but I do not advise this, as you get more competitive rates exchanging currency in Malaysia. If you decide to buy Ringgits at home, keep in mind your home bank may not carry the currency you need, and will have to order it, or if they do have it, ask what year the notes are from, as they can sometimes have expired money that is worthless in the other country. This all means one thing – plan currencies early.

When traveling, don’t keep it all in the same place. Spread it around your person and baggage so that if something is stolen, you don’t lose all your cash. If you are going to exchange cash on site, note that some exchange places take credit cards, and some don’t, so it is advisable to bring some cash in a universally recognized currency like US dollars (USD) British Pounds (GBP) or Euros (EUR).  If you are bringing USD, GBP, or EUR with you, bring large bills, like 50’s or 100’s as many currency exchange booths in Malaysia charge more to convert small bills. Malaysian, foreign exchange businesses will not exchange coin, only paper money.


Travis Nielsen is the Meeting Manager for IMCC5 and founder and CEO of Azurigen Management and Consulting Solutions Inc. A STEM project management firm that specializes in linking conservation based science to business and government. He is a published Marine Biologist with 10 years experience in STEM, and 10 years of experience in management and leadership. He has been responsible for projects with budgets up to $500,000, working with multiple stakeholders, large public engagement mandates, and with staffs up to 100 people in locations all across the globe.

The Benefits Of Sponsoring the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress


By Andrew Lewin


The time of the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC5) is almost here! On June 24, or just before, almost 1000 professionals involved in making the oceans healthier through marine science and conservation will come together in Kuching, Borneo, Malaysia to share information on their project successes and find solutions to overcome the challenges faced by the oceans around the world. IMCC5 is a fantastic opportunity for people within the field of marine science and conservation to come together and work towards conserving the world’s most important ecosystem. It’s also a chance for brands to send a message to the world that they support a healthier planet by supporting those who strive to conserve the ocean’s environments, resources, and cultural heritages!


Brands are taking more responsibility on taking care of the planet these days because it benefits not only their public image, but also adds to their legacy of making life better for their customers. Customers buy with emotion; they buy a product or service because they not only enjoy what they buy, but they believe in the mission of the company. Patagonia sells outdoor gear to people who enjoy the outdoors. Their customers care deeply about the environments they love to explore with gear they buy, so Patagonia helps protect those key places. They also realized that many of their customers take part in protecting nature. In response, Patagonia recently launched a project that matched people who wanted to help protect nature with organizations searching for volunteers among their other initiatives. Patagonia’s customers are grateful for the project and will be proud of the work they do to protect the outdoors, which creates even more brand loyalty. Brands whose customers are interested in the outdoors can easily build customer loyalty by embracing similar initiatives. The return on investment with these initiatives is huge for companies and brands!

Conservation Alliance

Patagonia has done a lot to build its brand as a company that not only makes quality merchandise, but also cares deeply about the environments its customers care about, including founding The Conservation Alliance (© Patagonia)


The opportunity is not just for large brands such as Patagonia. My own brand, Speak Up For Blue Media, is a small company (I am the only staff member and work with collaborators) working to build its reputation. I am sponsoring IMCC5 because I understand its benefits for my brand, and I have even seen the proof. I went to IMCC4 in 2016 with the aim to interview presenters one-on-one for my podcast (The Speak Up For Blue Podcast). I went to the conference with a small audience, and left well-known within the field of marine conservation science! I left the conference with a stronger brand and a larger audience as other conference delegates quickly spread the word of the podcast to friends, family, and colleagues. My audience grew, and I now began having requests to be on the show by marine scientists and conservationists. My brand reputation grew quickly because my brand was exposed at IMCC4, directly to a huge portion of my target audience. I am a proud sponsor for this year’s IMCC because I want to continue to grow my brand, and believe sponsoring IMCC5 is one of the best ways I can do so!


Your brand can seize a great opportunity to build its customer base with people who are  proud of the work their favorite brands (that’s you!) are doing to better protect the oceans.  It starts with a small sponsorship that will help drive the productive conversations and key workshops held during the meeting. Don’t be left in the wake of other companies already working to support marine conservation initiatives like IMCC5! Take time to check out our sponsorship page here and find out how you can join the rush to Make Marine Science Matter at IMCC5 this summer!


Andrew Lewin is the founder of Speak Up For Blue, a marine ecologist, and an ‘oceanpreneur.’ His career mission is to teach you how to Live for a Better Ocean by telling you what’s happening in the latest ocean news, science, and conservation of the world’s oceans. Andrew’s goal is to build Speak Up For Blue as an online platform where you can get the information you need to live in a way where you minimize your impact on the ocean and are able to learn and support the people and their projects that work so, so hard, to protect the oceans and people reliant on them every day. You can follow his YouTube channel here!

Why Am I Excited to Attend IMCC5?


By Patrick Goff


That is a question that I think about quite often now as I look forward to this summer. Why am I excited to attend IMCC5? Why am I willing to travel to Malaysia to attend a marine science conference? Those are great questions to ask of a middle school science teacher from the landlocked state of Kentucky in the US. I am excited to attend for a few reasons

1. Any chance I get to listen, talk with and interact with practicing scientists is awesome! It is through interactions and connections made here that my students are able to benefit. This conference gives me live interactions to help me better myself as a science educator. Meeting as many new people really helps me to better serve my students as a science educator. The more I understand how scientists think, work and go about investigating the world around them, the better I am able to share this with my students and better able to help setup more realistic science projects with them. What’s better is that I will be able to learn new ways to work #scicomm into my classroom, new ways to integrate the arts into my classroom and new ways of using technology to help my students learn and share what they know about science.

2. As an environmentally concerned citizen, if I can get a chance to learn more about how I can help be a better steward of the oceans, it is worth my time. Going to a marine science conference on the edge of the Pacific Ocean to learn about how I can help is a fantastic opportunity! It is through conferences like this one that I am able to learn and then take that information back not only to my students, but also to my community to better educate them about marine science. I am excited about learning. I am excited about science. I am excited about marine science. IMCC is all of that in one place!

3. As a father of a son who is interested in science, I am humbled to be able to bring him with me to share in this adventure. He will get to experience new cultures, meet people from around the world helping to broaden his view and experiences. Through this experience, he will grow into a better human. What an opportunity to take him to Malaysia to participate in a Marine Science conference! I mean, this is a lifetime adventure for us. We will get to meet so many new people, experience new cultures, eat new food and widen our world view. This is just so fantastic!

4. There are so many awesome and fantastic people who I have met and can’t wait to see again in person. People that I have talked to online, through twitter and others who have Skyped in or talked/worked with my students. This is a great chance to say thanks and see old friends!

Patrick!Patrick Goff and Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley pose for a picture with the poster Patrick shared at IMCC4 in St. John’s about his initiative to get more scientists interacting with high school teachers & students! He can’t wait to continue to make connections with motivated scientists in Kuching this summer! (© Patrick Goff)

I am pumped! I am super pumped about coming to IMCC5 in Kuching. I am having a hard time finding the words to adequately share with you how excited I am, especially as a science educator. This has been a dream for me, to come and hang out at a science conference with scientists. I am so thankful to the organization for taking me in and letting me a part of it. See you all in Kuching!


Patrick Goff is a middle school science teacher in Lexington, Kentucky in the United States of America. He has been teaching for 17 years, holds a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education, a Masters in Administration and is Nationally Board Certified in Early Adolescent Science Education. Patrick is also the founder of the Student Scientist Partnership program, which aims to match up public school teachers and scientists to further communication and interaction opportunities between scientists and students in the classroom. You can also follow Patrick on Twitter here!

The 1st International Marine Kids Congress!


Outreach, diversity, and education are three integral components to a successful scientific conference. What better way to incorporate all three at #IMCC5 than to include local and delegate children?


IMCC5 organizers are happy to officially introduce the 1st International Marine Kids Congress (IMKC)!


Organized and led by qualified science instructors, IMKC will run along IMCC5 and engage 30 school-aged children (ages 7 through 14) in science education, marine biology, environmental conservation, and experiential learning. Participants will visit at least one local ecosystem to directly observe its wildlife, engage in a shoreline clean-up project, and carry out a small-scale research project focused on the marine or coastal environment.

Participants will include local youth from Sarawak and children of delegates. By interacting with science instructors and marine science professionals in a coastal city like Kuching, these children will experience a connection to the ocean that they may have never truly appreciated while also gaining a sense of empowerment to protect this fragile ecosystem.

1st Grade Outreach 4.jpg

The International Marine Kids Congress will bring together expert marine conservation scientists & youths for a unique learning experience! (© Ashley Rowell)

The inaugural and one-of-a kind event will incorporate science, education, outreach, communication, and adventures! Some of the highlights include:

  • Lessons on the scientific method, student-led projects, and an IMKC poster session
  • Melissa Marquez from The Fins United Initiative as Plenary Speaker
  • Hand-on, STEM-based laboratory activities on estuaries, marine debris/plastics, and salinity
  • Activities with a local artist centered around environmental awareness
  • Excursions that may include mangrove and dolphin-watching, Semenggoh Wildlife Center, and local-led city tour of Kuching
  • Beach/estuary clean up and trash inventory
  • Movie screening and discussion


This project represents the first of anticipated subsequent Kids Congresses focused on engaging tomorrow’s ocean leaders in marine science education and inspiring within them a lifelong appreciation for our oceans.
For more information email Patrick Goff or Keni Rienks.

On the Road to IMCC5 – A Journey through Bako National Park


By Travis Nielsen

The boat motor was humming in the distance. You could hear it through the gentle patter of rain that greeted us at as we paid for our tickets. Our group had one last chance to grab anything we needed. Lacking a jacket, I grabbed a rain poncho in the event it continued to rain, not that I really needed it though, the rain was slightly refreshing in the extreme heat and humidity.

We were at the visitor’s center for Bako National Park, our guide, a retired school teacher who has been coming to Bako almost daily since his retirement, brought us here from our hotel.  It took 30 minutes by mini-bus to get to the visitor’s center, and we had now paid for our tickets to enter the park and were now beginning to board the boat that would take us on another 30-minute ride to our destination – the beachfront entry dock to Bako. Bako national park is a peninsula outside of Kuching; however, there is no road access, so the park must be accessed by boat!


Our guide stands by a map of the Bako National Park, preparing us for the wonders ahead to see! (©Travis Nielsen)

Along the way, we spent most of our time entranced with the gorgeous scenery. The steep cliff sides stood hundreds of feet above the water coated with a dense cover of foliage of exotic plants and trees, interspersed with cracks and isolated beaches only accessible by boat. The view was the kind of thing you would expect to be narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Simply stunning!

As we passed a large point of land, we made sight of the beach of Bako National Park. There, on the beach, wandering lazily as if king of the park, was a wild boar. In a later conversation with our guide, he would note that particular boar has been at the park for many years, and is now a semi-permanent fixture, only leaving the area when food was scarce.

Bako Park pig

The boar of Bako National Park. A longtime park-resident often seen wandering the beaches. (©Sarawak Tourism)

Upon arriving we came to a narrow waterway with a short concrete dock. The boatman brought the bow to the dock and cut the motor hard, swinging the boat alongside the dock so we could exit. Once onshore, a short walk down a large, clean boardwalk passed a series of bungalows, which can be rented by the night if one desires, to get to the park headquarters (HQ).

A large concrete building with food and drinks available, the park HQ would be the only stop for toilets before we began our day of hiking! However, our quick start to the day was almost immediately halted when we were welcomed by a party of proboscis monkeys. These rare, elusive monkeys are only found on the island of Borneo, living in and amongst the mangrove trees. Male monkeys are highly notable and photogenic because of their round bellies and tell-tale bulbous nose! Thrilled, we quietly watched this group of six monkeys feed and play amongst themselves until they melted back into the woods.

Bako Park proboscis

A male proboscis monkey munches leaves in Bako National Park. (©Sarawak Tourism)

After getting our tour group in order, we began our hike. It was not the easiest hiking conditions, but our group was in reasonable physical shape, so the trip wasn’t impossible. It took us through the dense jungle of Borneo along the coast so that periodically you could see deep ocean blue bursting through the foliage as we hiked. At several different points along the trail, our guide would stop to point out exotic plants and animals as he noticed them, including some beautiful pitcher plants, which have cultural significance to the area, and are used regularly in local cooking. When we arrived at the beach, we boarded another boat that took us on a short trip to the “Cobra Head” sea stack; a limestone pillar that has eroded over the millennia to look eerily similar to the head of a cobra. It jutted out of the sea at least 10 meters high. As we sat soaking up this stone serpent, I spent that time staring at it with fascination, trying to commit the stack’s every precious curve and crevice to memory.

After 15 minutes, which only felt like an instant, we were on our way back to the park HQ for lunch. We made landfall at the beach and walked onto shore in our bare feet, soft sand gently squishing between our toes. The HQ has a small cafeteria on site that had a buffet style lunch. “Please be careful when you are eating.” Our guide announced, “there are long-tail macaques that live here, and they are naughty monkeys that will steal your food if you don’t watch.” Our group must have been watchful, as our lunch was relaxing and uneventful. After clearing our plates, we went back to the trail map and began planning our second hike of the day. However, I decided the beautiful allure of the beach was too much, and I let the group hike on without me.

Bako Park cobra rock

The famous Cobra Head limestone rock formation of Bako National Park. (©Sarawak Tourism)

I took this time to extend my lunch and sit in the chair on the outer deck of the park HQ nursing a glass of water. As I sat there, a commotion sprang up! A macaque dropped from the rafters of the park HQ, making a fast assault on an unsuspecting tourists plate, grabbing a few handfuls of Chow Mein noodles and stuffing most of it in his face before climbing back up into the rafters. The event took 30 seconds at most and ended with shock and laughter from the small group of tourists as the monkey sat in the rafters finishing off on his prize!

After taking a moment to halt my laughing, I got up and headed for the beach. On the beach as we had returned for lunch, I had noticed a series of patterns and tiny balls of sand all over the beach. These patterns were unique, and I had seen them before, but I could not remember where. Arriving at the patterns, I noticed they radiated out from a central hole… I suddenly realized I was looking at the home of the Sand Bubbler Crab! I had studied these during a university course and seen them in videos, but never in the wild. Sand bubblers are the size of your average garden pea and eat the bits of food found in the sand. As they eat, they slowly roll up a ball of the sand they have picked clean. Once they get too far from their home, they head back to their home and start again. I must have watched these crabs work away for 40 minutes before I realized what time it was. Between my crab watching adventure and the Chow Mein Caper it had been just over an hour and it was time to head back to park HQ.

It wasn’t long once I arrived at the HQ that the rest of our group and the guide were back, and we packed up to leave. I had relayed the story about the monkey I had now named Mad-Jack Macaque to our group and guide. Our group lamented the missed event and our guide chucked impishly at the naughty antics of the macaque.

Bako Park silver leaf monkeys

A pair of silver leaf monkeys, also known as silvery lutungs, sit with their baby clad in orange. A rare, but possible sighting in Bako National Park! (©Thomas Marent)

We headed back for the dock during the afternoon high tide, allowing our boat easy access to the dock. As we made our way for the boat we were given a surprise send off. A group of silvered leaf monkeys materialized from the forest! Considered the shyest and most elusive species of monkeys living in Bako, the silvered leaf monkeys get their name from their grey-tipped hair that gives the monkeys a silver, almost elegant appearance. The group of eight monkeys, a family unit with adults and babies, were taking a moment to rest along the edge of the boardwalk. Though this delayed our departure, it was a welcome delay indeed. Bako is known for three species of monkey, and we got to see them all!

As we said farewell to our monkey friends and boarded our boat to make the journey home to Kuching, I knew it that it would be quite some time before I would be able to top such an experience as this afternoon!

Travis Nielsen is the Meeting Manager for IMCC5 and founder and CEO of Azurigen Management and Consulting Solutions Inc. A STEM project management firm that specializes in linking conservation based science to business and government. He is a published Marine Biologist with 10 years experience in STEM, and 10 years of experience in management and leadership. He has been responsible for projects with budgets up to $500,000, working with multiple stakeholders, large public engagement mandates, and with staffs up to 100 people in locations all across the globe.

Announcing Abstract Submission Open!


We are happy to announce that we are now accepting submissions for abstracts to present at the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC5) in Kuching this summer June 24 – 29, 2018!

Waterfront Hotel 1 The magnificent Waterfront Hotel will be the host for IMCC5 this summer in Kuching. (© The Waterfront Hotel)

Have you just uncovered interesting results in your marine science research? Has a conservation issue you work with recently taken the come into focus? Does a new marine policy need discussion? Is there a marine conservation issue or cause that needs to be heard?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you are in a great position to help us “Make Marine Science Matter” this summer at IMCC5 by submitting an abstract to share your story, science, and/or experience with a diverse audience. One of the premier marine conservation science meetings, IMCC is a hub for researchers, resource managers, students, conservationists, politicians, consultants, activists, industry representatives, school teachers, and even artists from every corner of our blue planet!

By submitting an abstract and attending one of the largest marine conservation science meetings, you’ll be in a position to network with a diverse and motivated crowd of real people, eager to hear and help elevate your message! You won’t want to miss this chance to talk marine conservation with some of the top conservationists from around the world! Submission is open for anyone planning to present at IMCC5 this summer! We welcome your abstracts for Oral, Speed, Poster Presentations, and OceansOnline sessions until 23:59NDT on 16 March 2018.


For more details on the Call for Abstracts please check out our website here. You can also get more updates by following @IMCC2018 on Twitter and Facebook.