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The Odyssey leaves Sri Lanka after 5 months of research.
Photo : Chris Johnson

October 3, 2003
Departed Sri Lanka - Crossing the Indian Ocean
Real Audio Report

Log Transcript

After over five months researching sperm whales in Sri Lankan waters, it is time for the crew to move on to the next area of study. With three new crewmembers joining us, the Odyssey departed Colombo harbor and is heading west across the Indian Ocean.

We bid farewell to Sri Lanka with much regret, leaving an abundance of whales and many new found friends in our wake - we all vowed to return in the near future.

Sri Lanka was an exceptional and sometimes challenging place to research and explore. Its profusion of wildlife on land and at sea, coupled with a rich cultural history and religious influence made it one of the most fascinating regions we have visited so far on the voyage. Unfortunately, continuing civil unrest also plagues Sri Lanka, while its natural heritage is facing an uncertain future as the rapidly expanding human population slowly encroaches into untouched areas on which its fabulous array of wildlife is utterly dependant.

Fortunately, many Sri Lankans value their wilderness areas. Hopefully their intense respect for nature and steadily increasing awareness about environmental issues spells hope for the future of this small jewel in the Indian Ocean.

A view outside the Odyssey door. The rough weather kept the crew onboard the vessel for 4 days in Male harbor.
Photo : Chris Johnson

After a few days sailing west under an overcast sky, on a grey, tumultuous sea, a torn mainsail forced us to stop for a short time in the Maldives. To our frustration, foul weather and 30-40 knot winds has temporarily confined us to port in Male - the Maldives capitol. Our anchor dragged several times during the day and night due to constant squalls and high winds - sleep for more than a couple of hours was an elusive commodity for the crew.

An anchor drags when it is unable to grip on a soft or sandy sea floor. The only solution is to go out on deck, usually during a squall, lift the anchor, move to an area that we hope yields greater protection from the changing winds, drop the anchor again and trust it will hold.

We are hopeful the bad weather will break over the next day or two, affording us the opportunity to leave and begin a new search for sperm whales. Currently we are unable to even take our dinghy into shore as the swell is too large and the wind too strong. We did not expect the winds to be so powerful this late in the monsoon season, at such close proximity to the equator. Normally, the winds tend to slack in September, while October is the transition period when the easterly trades begin. So far, there is no sign of either.

For now, all we can do is sit and wait for the winds to subside.

This is Genevieve Johnson speaking to you from the Odyssey, drenched and windblown in the Maldives.

Genevieve on deck as the crew works to raise the anchor in high winds.
Photo : Chris Johnson


Written by Genevieve Johnson

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