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The Odyssey departs the harbor of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Photo: Chris Johnson

August 16, 2001
Saying Goodbye to PNG and the Pacific
  Real Audio
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Log Transcript

This is Genevieve Johnson speaking to you from the Odyssey on our final day of research in Papua New Guinea. It is a warm, breezy evening and as the sun settles behind the summit of the distant highlands, the Odyssey is making her way out of Port Moresby harbor before raising the sails. After an unbelievable six months, the crew, only moments ago, threw off the dock lines. With a hint of sadness, but an irrepressible excitement, we are bound once again for a new country; Australia.

For the crew of the Odyssey, the experiences of Papua New Guinea have been unforgettable, surpassing our wildest imaginings and highest expectations. This truly is one of the most beautiful, diverse and hospitable places any of us have ever had the privilege to visit.

We have had over 400 visual and acoustic sperm whales detection, including many mother and calf pairs as well as large males. We have been diving on some of the world's most spectacular coral reefs and visited remote island villages that appeared to be "lost in time".

Hundreds of people have toured the R/V Odyssey, including government and embassy officials, fisheries officials and environmental organizations. However, by far the most rewarding experience for us has been the thousands of school children we have visited in schools around the country, many have also toured the boat, or attended our museum presentations and public forums. Their interest in the whales we have encountered in their waters has spread like wildfire throughout the country, this is partially attributed to the media coverage we have enjoyed in both the national newspaper and television station. It has been amazing to witness this escalating interest firsthand.

The organization and establishment of the first ever Marine Mammal Forum led by the Ocean Alliance was an enormous success for all involved. This management framework brought together many public and private groups having an interest in the marine mammals of Papua New Guinea and will meet again in 6 months time to develop strategies to protect these creatures.

Now it is time for the Odyssey and her crew to move on to the next phase of our five-year global voyage. One thousand miles of ocean and eight days of sailing the Coral Sea and Torres Strait lie ahead, beyond it, our next destination, Darwin, Australia. So after 17 months of research in the Pacific Ocean we say goodbye to both it and Papua New Guinea, while looking forward to new challenges and more whales in the Indian Ocean.

Log by Genevieve Johnson

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