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Voyage of the Odyssey - Maldives:

  • February 2004 - April 2004
  • January 2003 - March 2003

Relive the experiences of the scientists and crew on this research leg the Maldives.
Click on each image to see a larger photo and the written transcript of the log.

You will need the Real Player, to watch video or listen to the logs.


April 25, 2004
'Passage Through the Arabian Sea'
"The Odyssey crew left the Maldives last week after two months of research. We are currently embarking on a 1200-mile passage across the Arabian Sea in the northern Indian Ocean before sailing 600 miles down the Gulf of Aden to Djibouti - a tiny country the size of Massachusetts nestled between Somalia and Eritrea at the base of the Red Sea."
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April 21, 2004
'Raising Nemo'
"To supply the aquarium trade, fish are often taken directly from coral reefs using destructive methods such as cyanide fishing. This chemical kills coral, any non-target fish in the immediate area and the majority of captured fish. There are also problems when the surviving fish reach the retail market. Read about what the Marine Research Center in Male is doing about it."
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April 16, 2004
'Unraveling the mystery of Killer whale ecology in Antarctica'
"Bob Pitman, a marine biologist from Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California, recently joined us for our last research leg in the Maldives. Spending up to eight months a year at sea studying sea birds, sea turtles, flying fish and marine mammals. Recently, his interests have moved toward researching killer whales in Antarctica."
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April 7, 2004
'Killer Whales - Encountering Transients'
"Yesterday during lunch, we turned off the engine in order to drift and enjoy the calm, sunny conditions. As soon as the engine was cut, we detected dolphin clicks and whistles on the acoustic array (underwater microphone). Moments later, we sighted a group 500 meters ahead. Suddenly the dolphins erupted from the surface of the sea leaping clear of the water and 'running' at top speed. Something was chasing them. Bob turned to me and said - 'we have killer whales.'"
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March 30, 2004
'Whale & Dolphin Diversity in the Maldives
"During most research legs, we focus our effort on sperm whales. This research leg we will survey closer to the reef in order to document smaller cetaceans and beaked whales."
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March 24, 2004
'The Science of the Voyage - Collecting Biopsy Samples from Sperm Whales'
"This is Roger Payne speaking to you from the Ocean Alliance's whale research vessel Odyssey. Today, we go behind the scenes and examine how we find and track sperm whales, take tissue biopsies from sperm whales and see how that data is processed with at the Wood's Hole Oceanographic Institution."
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March 17, 2004
'Four Years at Sea'
"Over the years, the crew researched in remote places, visited local communities and talked to students about whales and the oceans, and experienced diverse cultures - all while living at sea studying animals few people encounter in their lifetime. Some of the crew onboard joined the Odyssey four years ago, others joined at different times and in different locations around the world.'
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March 9, 2004
'The Face of Shark Finning'
"In the last Odyssey log, we reported on the trade in shark fins for use in shark fin soup and the practice of shark finning. This wasteful trade causes the death of over one hundred million sharks annually. The following report is a personal account of Odyssey crew members witnessing shark finning."
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March 1, 2004
'Shark Finning - A Global Threat to Sharks'
"Shark finning is defined as the removal of a shark's fins onboard a boat and the discarding of the remainder of the shark at sea. The animal is sometimes alive during this process. Why on earth would anyone undertake such a bizarre and inherently cruel practice?"
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February 27, 2004
'The Trade in Live Reef Fish for Food - Part 2'
"For communities that depend on reefs for their livelihoods the damage caused by this trade has long term implications-their natural resources are being mined and laid to waste. Research shows that reefs take decades to recover and that recovery is a process that can only happen under ideal conditions."
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February 15, 2004
'The Trade in Live Reef Fish for Food - Part 1'
"There is another trade that is on the increase, which procures live fish from Indo-Pacific coral reefs. Only a few wealthy individuals in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan can afford such luxuries, and their greed and ignorance is driving several species of wrasse and grouper, towards extinction."
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February 4, 2004
'Return to the Maldives'
"We arrived a couple of days ago and are currently anchored off Male - the Maldives capitol. It is nice to return to a familiar place, greeting old friends and re-visiting favorite places. We are awaiting the arrival of Dr. Roger Payne, who will be joining us offshore for the month of February."
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March 31, 2003
'Lionfish'
"Many species of fish are perfectly camoflaged, having evolved to blend into their background to hide from predators, or to increase their chances of sneaking up on prey, or both. If you swim closer to the reef, hang in one place and control your buoyancy in order to avoid touching the coral, you will almost always notice more fish than you would while swimming by it."
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March 26, 2003
'Coral Bleaching'
"During our time researching sperm whales in the Maldives, the crew dove on some of the most spectacular and in tact coral reefs found anywhere in the world. Yet even on these heavily protected reefs there are signs of trouble."
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March 20, 2003
'Coral Reefs - An Underwater Paradise'
"The Maldives is an underwater paradise in an area where the vast blue reaches of the ocean are studded with coral reefs. These reefs stretch for almost 900 kilometers, harbouring an explosion of aquatic life that includes over one-third of the reef fish found in the entire Indian Ocean."
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March 14, 2003
'Napoleon Wrasse'
"The crew spend most of their time offshore searching for whales, where opportunities to view marine life beneath the surface of the ocean are very rare. The Maldives are renowned for having some of the most pristine and spectacular coral reefs in the world. When we arrived back in port this week, the crew took the opportunity to go diving on North Male atoll."
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March 11, 2003
'Pseudorcas'
"It is always a thrill to see any cetacean species in the wild for the first time. Today, after more than three years of the voyage, the Odyssey crew spent a couple of hours with a dozen Pseudorcas, also known as false killer whales."
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March 7, 2003
'Whales and the Food Chain'
"From the clear waters of the equatorial Indian Ocean to the cold, turbid waters of the Northern Atlantic, I have had the opportunity to study whales in two different environments. Here aboard the Odyssey, our focus is on studying the sperm whale, toothed whales that prey primarily on squid. At first glance, these two places appear as though they could not be more different. They literally lie on opposite sides of the planet at vastly different latitudes. However, similarities exist between these two areas."
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February 28, 2003
'One of the World's Least Known Whales - Longman's Beaked Whale'
"We were invited today to view and photograph the skeletal remains of a beaked whale that was found on January 17, 2000 near Keyodhoo Atoll in the north of the archipelago. A group of fisherman found the whale carcass drifting close to shore and towed it to a nearby island. Fortunately, a team from the Marine Research Center (MRC) were present and able to identify the animal as a beaked whale, however, they did not recognize the species."
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February 23, 2003
'The Ironies of Watching Whales'
"Being in the Maldives, where local peoples rely all but entirely on the ocean for animal protein, it is striking to me to see how much less gear there is in these waters than in my home waters in Massachusetts (USA). What a welcome relief to find parts of this world where the whales can still swim freely, and the humans can still catch fish and where the ecosystem still prospers."
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February 19, 2003
'A Busy Day'
"Sailing south along the north-western coast of the Maldives archipelago, it's good to be with whales again. Yesterday morning Risso's and Striped dolphins paid the Odyssey a visit. The afternoon saw us sailing parallel to a small group of beaked whales."
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February 13, 2003
'Tuna Pole Fishery'
"The tuna fishery is the pillar of Maldivian society. The Maldivian tuna fishery is known to date as far back as the sixteenth century utilizing live bait, pole and line techniques that target the smaller species of surface swimming tunas."
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February 7, 2003
'A School Visit in Male'
"Returning to port for a week to refuel and reprovision the boat has afforded us the opportunity to visit schools and talk with several hundred students. It is always great to come in from a research leg after having been with whales and share that experience with school children."
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February 3, 2003
'A Bryde's Whale Sighting'
"The Bryde's whale is an enigma. Compared to many other species such as humpbacks, grays and southern right whales, favourites of the whale watch industry, the Bryde's whale is rarely seen. Even when it is observed at sea, it is often misidentified."
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January 28, 2003
'Deep Divers and the Bends'
"Sperm Whale are very deep divers. People often ask us how these air breathing mammals can dive to such great depths for extended periods of time without suffering from decompression sickness, also known as the 'bends.'"
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January 24, 2003
'Northeast Monsoon Season'
"Life on the open sea is dictated by the winds for they affect every part of our existence. Sometimes a strong blow can be a blessing, assisting us in travelling in a desired direction under the power of nature. At other times, we must face strong winds head on in order to reach our destination, or as is often the case, to keep up with sperm whales."
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January 19, 2003
'Addu Atoll'
"Due to high winds, the crew sailed into and dropped anchor at Addu atoll this afternoon, a tiny circular string of 27 islands, most of which are uninhabited. Addu is the southern most atoll in the Maldives and is a long way outside of the tourist zone, allowing those fortunate enough to visit, unparalleled access to some of the most interesting, unspoiled and traditional Maldivian villages in the country."
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January 13, 2003
'Arrival in the Maldives'
"Our 1,200 nautical mile journey from the Seychelles was calm and untroubled. A peaceful Holidays at sea included encounters with sea birds, humpback whales and several oceanic dolphin species, among them the effervescent pan-tropical spotted dolphins. These small whales made almost daily appearances. Since entering the Indian Ocean over a year ago now, representatives from this dolphin species have accompanied us more often than any other."
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January 7, 2003
'Seychelles Video Report'
"The crew reflect on the highlights of the Seychelles research leg."
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December 30, 2002
'Bowriding Humpback Whales'
"Days like today remind all of us onboard why we joined the Voyage of the Odyssey - to witness and study events at sea that most people on the planet will never get to experience in their lifetimes."
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