Odyssey's Captain Bob Wallace, First Mate/Marine Coordinator Josh Jones, and Scientific Coordinator Rebecca Clark, discuss possible routes for a coming research leg based upon a wide range of data, from historical whaling records to updated satellite images showing sea surface conditions.
October 18, 2000
The Search for Sperm Whales Continues
Hi this is Genevieve Johnson talking to you from the Odyssey, as we traverse
the Central Pacific on our mission to better understand this ocean and some
of its inhabitants.
The Pacific Ocean, is a scarcely explored watery wilderness, larger
than all of the worlds land masses combined. The sheer enormity of this
mass of blue is all but impossible to grasp, 71% of our planet is covered by
ocean with the pacific making up 50% of that.
It is for precisely this reason that the Odyssey crew must employ specific
techniques, in order to maximize our probability of locating Sperm whales,
an animal which spends only about 8 to 15% of its time at the surface.
Since the beginning of our voyage, we have been combining historical data;
specifically old whaling charts from (1761 - 1920 ) that indicate global
sperm whale catches, along with more recent marine mammal surveys. One
constant for the Odyssey scientific team in locating sperm whales has been
the depth and topography of the ocean floor. When we have found whales, it
has often been in areas of steep gradation, where the bottom rises quickly
from depths of over 3000 meters. These underwater mountain ranges and deep
trenches are usually areas of increased productivity due to associated
upwelling. It was precisely along the upper ridge of one of these underwater
peaks that Rebecca, on her observation watch, spotted a mother and calf pair
of Beaked whales today. Another species known to favor such bathymetric
Because the depth contours along which these whales travel only help to
approximate where we might find them, the Odyssey follows transects or
pre-planned courses, working back and forth across these underwater
features, incorporating both a visual and acoustic search effort.
We are currently searching an area where there is little or no whale data
available. Based on the success of our research to date, as we continue to
move across the world's oceans, we will collect whatever nautical,
historical and anecdotal information we can, to aid in our ongoing search
for sperm whales.
Log by Genevieve Johnson
| Back |