Since 1996, there has been a series of triennial meetings hosted throughout the world devoted specifically to the topic of four-limbed, backboned organisms that have returned to an aquatic life from terrestrial ancestry -- tetrapods and their secondary adaptation to life in the water. This bestiary includes many well-known living lineages (e.g., whales, seacows, pinnipeds, sea turles, penguins) and many more extinct ones (e.g., plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, and the much beloved desmostylians). These meetings are dominated by paleontologists, but they're open to anyone with an interest in this evolutionary transition -- past meetings have also included biomechanists, physiologists and molecular phylogeneticists in their ranks.
Previous meetings have been in Poitiers, France (1996), Copenhagen, Denmark (1999), Dunedin, New Zealand (2002), Akron, Ohio (2005), Tokyo, Japan (2008), and San Diego, California (2011). Each one of these locations has a nucleus of researchers and collections of interest to this group. With NMNH's collections and associated researchers and institutions nearby, Washington, D.C. is a logical place to hold such a meeting: SecAdDC will be held 2-4 June, 2014, and it will be mostly hosted by George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, but there will be events at NMNH downtown and perhaps in Maryland.
Mark Uhen and I are still planning stages, so stay tuned for a meeting website, along with registration details. Save the dates!