The Odyssey takes on fuel and water in preparation for departure from Tarawa Island.
Photo: Chris Johnson
February 2, 2001
Odyssey Preparations for Departure
This is Genevieve Johnson speaking to you from Tarawa atoll in the central tropical pacific.
The Odyssey and her crew have concluded a four month survey of Kiribati waters, stretching from the Line Island group in the east, through the central Phoenix islands and finally to the western most group, the Gilbert Islands. Our time here has been really rewarding with a healthy population of Sperm whales being located in the southern Gilbert Islands, an estimated population of between 50 - 70 animals. It seems this was a little known population, as many locals were completely oblivious to the fact that there were so many large whales here reasonably close to shore. The news has been a welcome surprise to most, we have learned of the strong historical and mythological connection between people and whales on many outer islands from several of the local I-Kiribati people.
Dr. Amos of Cambridge University, England, is one of the scientists analyzing the data we have collected, his genetics work may reveal whether these animals are a unique substock, or members of another population. The waters surrounding Kiribati also appear to support a thriving population of not only sperm whales, but a variety of other cetacean species. We have observed 12 species of both large and small whales here, 5 of which were rare sightings of 3 different species of beaked whale.
During our last leg to the north of Tarawa, the seas were extremely rough. High winds and a strong current caused a consistent 3 meter swell that made the trip fairly uncomfortable. As a consequence the Odyssey requires some maintenance work while in port. Our whale boom is in need of repair after being continually submerged beneath the swell, the generators, the watermaker, safety gear and all essential equipment and systems, must be checked and rechecked to ensure all are functioning efficiently before undertaking the next long ocean passage.
The next few days will also see the crew provisioning in port. We have been fortunate in this instance to coordinate our arrival with that of the provision ship from Australia. Fresh produce only arrives every 6 weeks in Tarawa and for the first time we have been able to eat fresh vegetables!
We have truly enjoyed our time in Kiribati, the opportunity to experience a little known culture combined with the friendly and hospitable people, has made us a little reluctant to leave this archipelago with its numerous beautiful coral atolls.
Our next passage will see the Odyssey and her crew completing the crossing of the Pacific ocean. Upon reaching Papua New Guinea, the Odyssey will have crossed the entire Pacific from east to west, covering a staggering 7,150 miles. Our next region of study will be in the waters surrounding New Ireland in Papua New Guinea. Ahead of us lies a 1600 mile passage to the port city of Kavieng in the North of the country, a journey that will take us approximately 2 weeks.
Log by Genevieve Johnson