(Left to Right) Chris Johnson, Genevieve Johnson, Rebecca Clark and Dr. Celine Godard.
Photo: Colin Reed
July 31, 2001
This is Genevieve Johnson, Field Education Coordinator aboard the Research Vessel Odyssey. The fact that the Voyage of the Odyssey has been going for over 500 days now is a pretty remarkable achievement for the Ocean Alliance. This expedition is only a reality due to the work of Roger Payne and Iain Kerr, and we are the people who actually get to live it.
It's definitely tough living in a confined space 24 hours a day, but the rewards are immeasurable. We see things that most people don't experience in a lifetime. Spending everyday immersed in nature, where else would you want to be? I can't think of anywhere.
Personally, I've enjoyed visiting some of the most remote atolls in the Pacific, particularly diving with sharks on untouched reefs. But probably the most rewarding aspect for me has been actually meeting the people who are making decisions about the future of the oceans and its creatures from Presidents to Government Ministers and Fisheries Officials and of course the hundreds of school children who are the decision-makers of the future.
Personally, I strongly believe that education is the key to saving the oceans.
Hear what some of the other Odyssey crew have to say about the first 500 days of the Voyage-
"Hi, my name is Celine Godard and I am the Chief Scientist for the Voyage of the Odyssey. It's exciting to be aboard the Odyssey for the 500th "birthday" of the Voyage. The Voyage has been very successful in terms of scientific data that has been collected. A big caveat of doing research on marine mammals is usually the amount of samples because its difficult to go out to sea be able to observe the cetaceans in their own environment and collect data. This is definitely one strong point of the Voyage of the Odyssey, we have been able to collect several hundred biopsies.
Personally, what I really enjoy about being here is it's a way for me to combine lab work with field work. So it's exciting to go out and see animals and to collect samples from them then go back to the lab and try to get just one more piece of information about the animals I saw in the wild.
I'm an environmental toxicologist so I'm interested in how pollution is effecting the whales, all cetaceans and all marine mammals, but I want to go further than that; not just getting an idea about how the whales are affected, but what can we do about it. Ultimately, bringing it to conservation and policy law making."
"My name is Rebecca Clark, I am the Scientific Manager on board the Odyssey. One of the benefits that I see of working on the Odyssey and this project, is that it's a continual learning experience. You can learn science from text books and in classrooms, but I have the opportunity to observe new species and new behaviors in the field each day, which is invaluable. Having the opportunity to share these experiences with guest students from various research regions that we go to, meeting new people and new cultures through the guest students and scientists we have on board provides a unique insight into local language, history and culture. For me, this reminds me that our focus is toxicology which is a real human issue not just a whale issue. This ties the whole thing together for me.
One thing that is both a benefit and a drawback to working on the Odyssey, is that everything is a challenge from cooking for nine people to trying to collect samples in 15 foot seas. Just the fact that you are always in motion and working 24 hours around the clock, people are always on different schedules and trying to coordinate together. Sometimes it's a challenge."
"My name is Chris Johnson and I'm the multimedia producer and cameraman aboard the Odyssey. I probably have one of the luckiest jobs on the boat, where I film, photograph and document all the daily events and occurences of this expedition. Some days are fairly difficult, but other days are pretty remarkable. For example, in the Galapagos Islands, one day, I was on watch in the crow's nest, 88 feet. above the deck and looking over the horizon, saw a lot of whitewater in the distance. When we got a bit closer it turned out to be an estimated group of 3,500 Common dolphins. That was absolutely amazing. It's something you don't see everyday on the ocean.
Creating and broadcasting this website to PBS, live from the field, has created what has become almost like a personal diary for a lot of the crew on board. When this voyage finishes, it's something we'll look back on and realize what a truly unique experience this has been for all of us. I definitely can't wait to document the next 500 days, that's for sure."
Log by Genevieve Johnson