Colleagues, friends, and those new to the IAAAM,
Welcome to the 45th annual conference of the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine, hosted by Sea World Gold Coast, Queensland Australia. The theme of this year’s conference is “Celebrating Success.” This conference focuses on the successes and new advancements that aquatic animal health professionals are achieving in an ever changing and challenging environment. Advances in technology, techniques, and knowledge allow us to continually improve the level of care we can provide to these incredible animals we all work with.
We are extremely fortunate to enjoy this meeting here in the Gold Coast of Australia. Starting off our program are two special sessions, one giving us perspectives on the field of marine animal health and medicine here in Australia, and then a session focused on some of the incredible creatures that call Australia home. We have 92 presentations at this year’s conference, including 13 posters. I have always been told that pulling together the IAAAM meeting is a team endeavor, and truer words have never been spoken. This meeting cannot happen without the dedicated, voluntary efforts of many people. From the IAAAM, Pam Tuomi is the rock upon which these conferences are built. This is both because of her expert management of our organization’s finances, and because she can recall the decisions made year over year that improve each and every meeting. Kathleen Colegrove and Lisa Murphy have once again deftly organized the student presentations, events and awards for this year’s meeting. Michael Briggs deserves a special nod for continuing to host and chair the Clinical Conundrums session. While we gather every year to discuss medicine, surgery, animal health challenges through the scientific program, some of the most valuable, and insightful, information is shared at Conundrums. It’s a highlight of the meeting. Above it all, I owe a deep debt of gratitude to our President, Tracy Romano, who provided the leadership, guidance, and all the gentle nudges needed to keep the planning ship sailing, and in the right direction. Tracy is an incredible leader, and it’s been an honor to work with her on this project.
In Australia, David Blyde and his team from SeaWorld have moved mountains to bring together their incredible facilities to host this meeting. A special thank you to his team including: Christina Holsheimer, Cathrine Atkin, Leisa Ottley, Melody Puckridge, and Caroline Duveau-Clayton. I should note that our weekly organizing calls for this conference were a bit tricky to arrange. Ultimately, they were set at a leisurely afternoon hour for our bi-coastal IAAAM team here in the US, but poor David had to roll out of bed for calls at 5:30 am on many an occasion. He never once mentioned the inconvenience! Dr. Blyde is quite a guy, and the success of this conference goes entirely to him and his colleagues.
As important as our scientific and professional pursuit at this conference is, of course, the fun that we all have together. And THAT is guaranteed here in Australia. David Blyde and his team have arranged an incredible social program for us, including a BBQ dinner at the poster session, and an Australian Outback Spectacular for our live auction. Be sure to take time on Tuesday afternoon to get outdoors, and tour the park. We’re in a remarkable place, and many of us will only be lucky enough to get here once.
Lastly, I want to thank all of the contributors to this year’s scientific session. This annual gathering is incredibly valuable to us professionally. It is the heart of the IAAAM. And the information and experiences we share here strengthen us individually and collectively. The IAAAM is much more than an organization; it is a community. A really great community. We are more than professional affiliates; we are colleagues, we are mentors, students, but above all, we are friends. It’s been an honor to organize the 45th annual conference. I hope you all enjoy yourselves here in the Gold Coast!