The US Hydro 2021 Conference, a virtual and real success

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series December 2021

Last September THSOA held its very successful US Hydro 2021 Conference, the first completely virtual event and a learning experience for all of us involved in the organization.

I want to thank everyone at The Hydrographic Society of America US Hydro Conference organizing committee, Board of Trustees, moderators, speakers, conference sponsors, academia, and government organizations, and all the participants that made this conference possible and a big success.

We used an innovative platform that enabled an easy access and facilitated the interaction among all participants. Although not a replacement of an in-person conference, it helped to get all of us virtually closer and socialize through the different platform tools.

We also organized our sessions in a semi-live or “simulive” style, with some pre-recorded presentations and presenters live for Q&A and discussion with the audience. This was very useful for staying on track with the agenda and because of the live Q&A, it kept participants engaged. And for those who registered to the conference, all the sessions are available in the same platform for six months after the closing ceremony.

I would like to highlight the “Women in Hydro” session, that was very well attended and served to make us all aware of the challenges that our female hydrographers colleagues face in our profession. For example, frequently, ships are not designed for a mixed crew, and the problem with some special working clothes that are not at the proper size, just to mention some very basic and common issues.

Also, this year we had very distinguished inductees for our Hydrographers Hall of Fame. They were: Richard Byrd, John Hughes Clarke, Rick Brennan, and Pat Sanders; all of them well-known and respected hydrographic professionals recognized for their trajectory and contribution to the profession and positive influence in most of us.

With respect to NOAA’s Rear Admiral Rick Brennan, former THSOA president who unfortunately passed away earlier this year, we announced the Richard T. Brennan Fair Winds Memorial Foundation, to honor and remember Rick and his enthusiastic work in hydrography. The Foundation’s objective is to advance education on ocean mapping and hydrography, building future leaders and problem solvers with support for higher education and helping to heal grief-stricken children who have suffered a traumatic loss. THSOA is a proud supporter of this foundation.

The US Hydro Conference 2021 was very well attended, with 383 registered attendees, not only attending the sessions but also exchanging more than 1,800 messages between them, with more than 50 community board posts, almost 60 photos uploaded, and more than 76,000 sponsor impressions from our 17 sponsors in the conference platform. I think these numbers represent, in a way, the success of our event.

And not everything was serious work. We organized some fun activities and contests, trivia, and games in the “Hydrographic Happy Hour,” a photo contest, “the snappiest of Hydro 2021,” our Leaderboard, “the mostest of Hydro 2021,” a photo caption contest “the Jester of US Hydro 2021,” and the “Hydro Geeks” competition.

As per the technical program, it always amazes me the innovation and forward-thinking presentations in our conferences. When I started thinking on what can be said about the wide variety of topics, the excellent presentations, and clear messages, one thing that I identified in common among all of them, is the interconnexion, interdependence, entanglement of all the data we collect and activities that conform our hydrospatial environment.

I would need several pages to comment on each one of them. But following on the interdependence, here is what I think: There is an Indian philosopher from the second century CE, called Nagarjuna. He was also a Buddhist monk, and essentially his philosophical approach to reality is that there is no fundamental, absolute, or independent thing in the world; nothing exists by itself, but in relation to something else, and the reality of everything depends on the perspective of the observer.

Similarly, all the data we collect, all the instruments we use, and all the users that benefit from them, exist because we are all related, they take specific meaning based on our different perspectives, providing knowledge and wisdom, but always in interaction with each other. 

As a hydrographic community, we are all related in one way or another, and I look forward to continuing with the good work, advancing hydrographic and hydrospatial sciences, and making our society a good reference to continue building these interrelations among us.

Finally, I want to invite professionals and students in hydrographic related areas to participate in our society, becoming active members. Here is our website for more information:

And stay tuned for news on the US Hydro 2023 Conference, that we hope will be an in-person and virtual event!

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