The grade 10 science students of Malaguna High School pose with Genevieve and Rodrigo.
Photo: Chris Johnson
May 16, 2001
Malaguna High School
Beneath the smoking caldera of Tuvurvur in the town of Rabaul, lies Malaguna High school, the only school to have survived the 1994 eruption that killed five people and rendered the rest of the town uninhabitable. On many days, the school lies directly in the path of the great columns of ash, spewing almost constantly from the crater. The children have learned to adapt to a life where being blanketed with a fine but irritating layer of ash, can be a daily occurrence for weeks on end.
Yesterday Chris, Rodrigo and I, traveled the rugged, unpaved road from Kokopo to Rabaul, and spoke with 80 science students from Malaguna High School. We talked about the Voyage of the Odyssey and the abundant marine life in their waters, particularly the sperm whales that we have encountered here in Papua New Guinea. Spending time with school children, is for me the most rewarding and important aspect of the Voyage. Like so many other children we have met here, they have not the slightest idea that there are whales in their waters. Their enthusiasm at seeing the images and video of the animals we have seen sparked an avalanche of questions and the desire to know more. What species are found here? What do they eat, and what eats them? Are they dangerous? How many babies do they have and how long do they live? Are they endangered? Are they still hunted?
The students were utterly charming, and their resolve to stay and talk further, well after our presentation had concluded, was a clear indication of their interest in the creatures that inhabit the watery realm surrounding their home.
It is always our absolute pleasure to meet students and teachers from these remote areas, their broad smiles and warm welcomes make these school visits such a thrill for us. We offered the education resources we had to the teachers, while distributing pictures of whales to the eager students. We ended our visit with a group photo, the Odyssey crew with the smiling and laughing school children of Rabaul. What a special day we had in port.
It is time to head out to the Bismarck Sea once again, in search of sperm whales. A research leg we have been looking forward too for a long time, as we are joined by Roger Payne and visiting scientist Peter Madsen. This is Genevieve Johnson speaking to you from the Odyssey.
Log by Genevieve Johnson