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The eye of sperm whale.
Photo: Chris Johnson

April 2, 2001
PNG Video Report
  Real Video
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Log Transcript

This is Captain Iain Kerr speaking to you from the decks of the Research Vessel Odyssey in the Bismarck Sea. We have been in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea now for six weeks, during that time we have spent a total of thirty-five days looking for whales with great success. Following is a video compilation of some of our experiences so far.

During our first survey leg of the Bismarck Sea, we were honored to have visiting scientist, Dr Frank Bonaccorso, curator of Natural History at the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Ian Liviko on board, Ian acted as our observer, and is a Marine Biology student from the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby. Also joining us was Benjamin Kahn of Apex Environmental based in Cairns, Australia.

Dr. Frank Bonaccorso:

    The Skill in the people collecting the biopsies and the number of biopsies we collected in just two weeks, I am impressed with the overall program, the skill and the enthusiasm with the people involved.

Iain Liviko:

    I did not know that there were whales in 'PNG'. I thought the whales and sea lions were in the North and the South Poles, in the temperate regions. Then I came onboard the Odyssey, we had whales.

The Bismarck Sea and the waters surrounding New Ireland and New Britain is a relatively unknown area in terms of whale and dolphin species and their abundance. The Odyssey crew is pleased to report that we have had 200 visual and acoustic sperm whale detections, along with several other species of cetaceans. We have encountered groups of sperm whales, in differing compositions of abundance, sex and age. This could indicate that the Bismarck Sea is a breeding and calving ground with the presence of not only several mother/calf pairs, but also large sexually mature males.
[Acoustic recording of sperm whales ]

Captain Iain Kerr discusses the first 6 weeks of research by the Odyssey in Papua New Guinea.
Photo: Chris Johnson

As a part of our educational outreach program, the Odyssey crew visits schools whenever we are in port, and extends invitations to students and teachers to tour the R.V.Odyssey. Our specific aim is to create awareness about whales and the ocean environment, while promoting advocacy for the protection of all marine mammals. Already we have provided curriculum resources to teachers and spoken with students from Kavieng, Rabaul and Vitu about the rich marine life inhabiting the waters around their island homes.

Teacher at Utu High School in Kavieng:

    I would like to thank you, Genevieve and Chris for giving us your time to come over and talk to the students on the research that you are doing. Hopefully. these young men and women who are sitting in front here, will be able to relay the message to those people in the villages and the young ones we have in this province.

Benjamin Kahn:

    To have an educational team of experts onboard who can, at every opportunity, link in with local communities and school groups, fisheries and environmental management officials, there is truly and intergrated approach when the Odyssey is in a particular country. I have been very impressed by that.

As part of the Ocean Alliance program, the 'Voyage of the Odyssey' the crew are hoping to spend up to six months of our three-year global voyage, in the waters surrounding Papua New Guinea.

Log by Genevieve & Chris Johnson with Iain Kerr

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