Dr. Roger Payne joins the Odyssey for the next month as we make our way from
Christmas Island to Tarawa in the Republic of Kiribati continuing to search for sperm whales.
Photo: Chris Johnson
November 24, 2000
Sperm Whale Contact
This is Roger Payne speaking to you from the open Pacific between Jarvis and Howland islands.
Today, we are at 1 degree 37.8 minutes south latitude and 167 degrees 21.7 minutes west longitude where, after not having seen a sperm whale since August 24th we heard the clicks of one during an hourly stop to listen. Using our hydrophone array Captain Bob Wallace had soon found it and pulled the Odyssey within a couple of hundred yards. But it slipped beneath the waves without peaking its flukes and disappeared... simply by going silent. We never heard another sound from it. Nor did we see it again.
Because the last sperm whale we saw was while enroute between the Galapagos and Christmas Island three months ago we really wanted to find this one again, but in spite of several hours of searching and listening it managed to avoid us entirely. From its large size and the slow pacing of its loud clicks it was a clearly a lone, adult male. From its presence in these waters, I assume it may be looking for estrus females in schools of females and young. That's a good sign for us, since we too are looking for schools of these whales. And I suspect this lone male knows more about where to find them than we do. However, I am surprised by his long silence since he was clicking loudly right up to the time he dived. I wonder whether our presence had anything to do with it.
I am going to be on board for 30 days while we make our way slowly between Christmas Island and Tarawa. During that time I will try to tell you a bit about life on board as well as about the sperm whales I am hoping we will be seeing during that time.
This is Roger Payne wishing you goodnight
Log by Roger Payne
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