The world tour finally came to an end in Omaha, Nebraska at the 4th International Symposium on Acoustic Communication by Animals. This was the conference I'd been most looking forward to in the world tour. So many of the people I looked up to in the bioacoustics world were going to be there and I'd get the chance to meet them and talk all things bioacoustics.
I learned things I never knew I never knew about acoustics, especially some of the finer details of more in-depth experimental bioacoustics which will definitely come in handy further on in my career. The people were very friendly and encouraging and it turns out bioacousticians have a great and whacky sense of humour. But the quote of the conference definitely goes to my supervisor Tracey when she was reporting on our research and said: "Dolphins are the size of a cow, they should be going 'moooo'! But instead they squeak!"
Omaha itself is a really interesting place to visit. It's an old industrial city, with lots of warehouse style buildings and beautiful parks to wander around in.
And the zoo! The conference was actually being held in the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, rated the top zoo in the world by TripAdvisor in 2014. This zoo was unlike any other I'd ever been to. Their exhibits were huge biospheres where you could wander through the various ecotypes and see the animals up close. In the forest dome, microbats flew around freely, sometimes getting so close you could feel the breeze from their wings rustle your hair. And the exhibits didn't stop at the ground level. Some exhibits continued below ground, turning into caves with bats, swamps with alligators and beavers (I'll actually admit the swamp was slightly scary. Seriously, it was dark and wet, and you couldn't really see the barriers and you're walking on a boardwalk with the sounds of the alligators moving around without actually being able to hear them. Creepy.)
It was an awesome end to the world tour and I'm sure I'll be returning to at least a few of the places I visited sometime in the future.