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Genevieve Johnson, the Field Education Co-ordinator aboard the R.V. Odyssey, gives a multimedia presentation to groups of school children of Christmas Island. She talks about the importance of continuing to explore the world's oceans and the conservation of whales.
Photo: Brian Hall

November 22, 2000
A Visit from the School Children of Christmas Island
Real Video

Log Transcript

This is Genevieve Johnson talking to you from the Odyssey in Kiribati. Today we opened the Odyssey to the school students of Christmas Island as a part of our educational outreach program. The entire island community pooled their limited resources to get the children to the Odyssey. Two outrigger boats belonging to the local hotel were offered as transport for the day, fuel was donated from the local K-oil plant and a wide range of volunteers from various sectors of the community chaperoned the students.

The boatloads began to arrive just after 9:00 am, and continued steadily, late into the afternoon. Our guests were given a tour of the Odyssey that began on the aft deck, where Jacob gave an overview of the voyage, our mission and the natural history of the sperm whale. The groups were then moved on to the pilothouse, where Bob and Rebecca explained our acoustic tracking system. We told the children about our research, including toxicology, genetics and acoustics, as well as our methods and protocols for the collection of data from sperm whales.

Next, the students were directed toward the salon where Brian and I gave a multimedia presentation. We told them why we feel it is important to continue exploring the worlds oceans and how whales help both in that process and in letting people appreciate the importance of conserving the oceans. Sensitivity is required when you are a guest in another country, it is always necessary to acknowledge and respect different beliefs. The children for example, found it hilarious that we would take the time to rescue and release a sick or entangled marine animal such as a turtle, when as they so willingly pointed out, for them such a finding would be a windfall, the animal killed and shared amongst the community. Similarly, when discussing the impacts of trash in the ocean, its causes and consequences, we need to understand that more remote nations with limited resources, have no means of effective garbage disposal. Currently much of the trash here finds its way to the sea. Christmas and the surrounding islands are extremely remote, its people have little opportunity to experience the causes and impacts of pollution. The process of changing this has already begun in the schools. Teachers such as Rereo, who also acted as interpreter for the day, highlight the consequences for all of us as a result of our collective impact on the ocean environment.

The day turned out to be not only extremely enjoyable, but a learning experience for the children of Kiribati and all of us aboard the Odyssey.

Log by Genevieve Johnson

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