The Local Host Committee welcomes our colleagues to Norfolk, Virginia, for the 2020 Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Norfolk is situated at the southern end of Chesapeake Bay, in the Tidewater Region of the mid-Atlantic coast of the US. The region is home to wonderful flora, fauna, and habitats, as well as a rich cultural history. The meeting will take place at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott, with rooms also available at the nearby Sheraton Norfolk Waterside, both on the north shore of the Elizabeth River and within 10 miles of Norfolk International Airport (ORF). The hotel is in a thriving, historical part of the city, with many restaurants and cultural spots to complement the activities of the meetings, including a number of craft breweries in the immediate area of the conference.
We are excited to host outstanding plenary presentations, many contributed papers and posters, the SSAR President’s Travelogue, live auction and other annual events that attendees have come to cherish. In addition, this year’s JMIH will have several symposia. The AES is hosting two symposia, including Applied, Theoretical, and Technological Advancements in Elasmobranch Ecology, and Global Wedgefish and Guitarfish symposium The SSAR is sponsoring a symposium title Exemplary Practices in Herpetological Education. The SSAR, HL, and ASIH are supporting the symposium Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Ichthyology and Herpetology. This year marks the 100th meeting of the ASIH and we look forward to celebrating this special occasion during the plenary session and throughout the meeting.
We are excited to usher in a couple of new “greening the meetings” initiatives at JMIH 2020. First, in an effort to reduce costs and consumption of resources, we will not be providing meeting bags. We encourage attendees to reuse bags from previous conferences. Second, there will be the opportunity for attendees to purchase carbon offsets during registration. All proceeds from this will be donated to a local environmental non-profit organization.
If your travel plans allow, you will find Norfolk, the Tidewater area of Virginia generally, and the broader region a pleasure to visit. The conference will be held in the heart of Norfolk’s Waterside district, and within walking distance to several other parts of the city. Attractions in the immediate area include The Virginia Zoo and the Norfolk Botanical Garden, and several world class museums, including the Chrysler Museum of Art, and the Hermitage Museum & Gardens. Several of these relate directly to the maritime culture that in many ways defines Norfolk, including Nauticus & The Battleship Wisconsi, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, and others.
Norfolk is a great jumping off point for many exciting and beautiful places to visit. A short drive east, and you will be in the resort city of Virginia Beach, where one can relax on the beach, surf the waves, charter a deep-sea fishing boat, or visit the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. To the north of the city of Virginia Beach is First Landing State Park, with almost 20 miles of hiking and biking trails that traverse a wide variety of habitats, including cypress swamps, salt marshes, maritime forests, freshwater wetlands, dunes, and the bay shoreline. About a 45-minute drive to the southwest is the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, which straddles the Virginia-North Carolina border and protects over 112,000 acres of ecologically and biologically unique habitats of the mid-Atlantic region. About 1-hour north is the Historic Triangle area of Virginia, comprising Yorktown, Williamsburg, and Jamestown, each of which holds a special place in the history of the United States. Richmond, the capital of Virginia, is about a 2-hour drive from Norfolk, and is home to many museums, galleries, and historic sites, from the Civil War era and beyond. Further afield but still less than a 4-hour drive, one can find themselves in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park.
Virginia is home to wonderfully diverse natural heritage, from the mountains to the sea. We hope that participants in the 2020 JMIH will take some additional time to enjoy the natural and cultural beauty of the Tidewater. We look forward to seeing you all in July!
Eric J. Hilton, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, William & Mary
Kate Bemis, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
Kent Carpenter, Old Dominion University
Rafael de Sá, University of Richmond
Jan McDowell, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, William & Mary
Tom Munroe, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
Rocky Parker, James Madison University