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The Odyssey and some of its crew make front page headlines of the Kiribati national newspaper, the Uekera. From left to right - Rebecca Clark, Josh Jones, Chris & Genevieve Johnson.
Photo: Courtesy of the Uekera

February 14, 2001
Meeting the President of Kiribati
  Real Audio

Log Transcript

This is Genevieve Johnson speaking to you from the Odyssey, as we are about to sail out of Kiribati waters and enter the territorial waters of Nauru. Toward the end of our time in the capital, some of the Odyssey crew attended a function at the Australian High Commission. Among many high ranking officials and Government representatives was Teburoro Tito, President of Kiribati. We were introduced to the president and spoke with him for a while, during which time we discussed the sperm whales we had found in Kiribati waters, as well as the eleven other cetacean species sighted--three of which are rarely observed beaked whale species. We discussed the Voyage of the Odyssey and the purpose of our global expedition. The President, himself a scientist and former teacher, was very interested in both the scientific and educational implications of our work. We explained how we collect data from the whales and discussed the possible implications of the results.

The President emphasized the strong relationship he and his people share with the ocean and its creatures, in particular their connection with whales via several myths and legends. The president told us that he too was concerned about ocean pollution and human impacts and that he was very pleased to have the Odyssey working in his waters. He expressed his desire to hear more about the voyage and invited us to call his secretary to make an appointment to discuss the voyage further at his office.

A few days later, Rebecca Clark, Chris Johnson and I conducted a multi-media presentation at his office for the President and his Permanent Secretary, Mr. Alex Teabo. The one-hour presentation included a brief on the Voyage of the Odyssey, a discussion of our science and educational outreach programs, as well as an exhibit of our website, explaining how we are trying to take the world with us on our journey. In addition, we presented a video tape of the whales we have seen in Kiribati waters and a letter written by Roger Payne, President of Ocean Alliance to Mr. Teabo who accepted it on behalf of the President.

Rebecca Clark, Genevieve Johnson and Kiribati Permanent Secretary, Mr. Alex Teabo.
Photo: Chris Johnson

> Watch an excerpt of the video report on the Kiribati leg of the Voyage of the Odyssey produced for the President and Government of Kiribati.
Real Video   56k   200k

> Read the letter by Dr. Roger Payne to the President of Kiribati to urge the creation of legislation to protect whales within Kiribati.

After expressing our thanks for the opportunity to work in Kiribati waters, the letter highlighted the economic potential of creating legislation to specifically protect the whales in Kiribati waters. Currently there is no legislation in place to protect marine mammals of any kind in the 3.5 million square kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Kiribati. In addition, there has been no recognition of the possible revenue potential from industries such as whale watching and documentary filmmaking. Dr. Payne outlined the possibility of implementing and attracting business for such markets. The intention of Ocean Alliance is to offer a viable alternative to whaling in countries where natural resources of high economic value like whales are usually overexploited by wealthy nations. Whaling is now a real possibility with countries such as Japan pushing hard to resume commercial whaling worldwide.

At the conclusion of our meeting, Mr. Teabo acknowledged that the presence of the Odyssey in Kiribati waters was a newsworthy event. He directed a team of journalists to tour and document the work of the Odyssey and her crew.

The following morning, a photograph of the Odyssey crew was on the front page of the National newspaper, the Uekera, with a full report on the voyage continued inside and accompanied by a photograph of the Odyssey. On the same day, the largest radio station in Kiribati, Radio Kiribati, did a story on whales and the Voyage of the Odyssey.

Log by Genevieve Johnson

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