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INTERVIEW WITH A SCIENTIST

In regions where the Odyssey conducts research, the crew often interview local scientists for the website. The following are some of those logs. In addition, periodically, Dr. Roger Payne and Dr. Celine Godard of the Ocean Alliance comment on various subject areas.


December 22, 2000
How We Find and Track Sperm Whales
"To find and track sperm whales we use a hydrophone array (two underwater microphones housed in a 30 foot, oil-filled tube and towed behind the ship from a 100 meter-long cable). Alone, this acoustic array gives us very good stereo sound from the sea surrounding the boat."
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March 15, 2002
'Why are blue whales so big and so loud?'
"Roger Payne - why do baleen whales look like baleen whales? What are the forces that designed them to be so big, to carry tons of blubber on their bodies, and to emit the loudest, lowest sounds made by any animal on earth?"
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June 27, 2003
'The Dolphin Fishery'
"Until recently, the desperate plight of the world's dolphins and porpoises has gone relatively unnoticed, even though an estimated 300,000 small cetaceans are killed annually. Their mortality is rising at an alarming rate with fisherman specifically targeting dolphins."
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June 20, 2003
'Save the Dolphins'
"Few people are aware of the hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of small whales, known as dolphins and porpoises, that are killed every year in frightening numbers as a direct result of entanglement in fishing gear. In fact considerably more dolphins are killed today than all the great whales that were killed at the height of the mechanized commercial hunts that brought many species to the brink of extinction."
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January 16, 2002
'The Jenner's of Western Australia'
"Curt and Micheline Jenner head the Australian Centre for Whale Research and are a husband and wife scientific team who have been working off the west Australian coast for thirteen years.The Jenner's spend half of the year with humpback whales off Exmouth in north-western Australia and the other half with the rare and illusive Pygmy Blue Whales of Rottnest Island to the south."
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November 20, 2001
'Box Jellyfish'
"During the wet season, temperatures and humidity soar. You would assume that being a city on the ocean, locals would flock to the beaches. However, this is not the case as just offshore, the waters are teeming with the most toxic animal on the planet, the Box Jellyfish."
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August 7, 2001
'The Toxicant Build-up'
"The terms toxicants and toxins both refer to toxic substances. But toxins are natural products such as the ones found in poisonous mushrooms, or in a snakes' venom. Toxicants are man-made products, artificial products introduced into the environment due to human activity; examples are industrial waste products and pesticides."
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June 6, 2001
'The Diving Physiology of the Sperm Whale'
"In order to exploit the food sources of deeper waters, whales have to stay submerged at great depth for extended periods of time. Sperm whales are masters of this discipline as they may dive to depths of 2000 meters, holding their breath for an extraordinary, 1.5 hours. So how do they accomplish this?"
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April 17, 2001
'Acoustic Clues to Sperm Whale Ecology'
"So there is a wide array of uses that researchers have for these 'clicks'. For instance we use clicks to track the whales, which is very basic in this voyage and in any sperm whale ecological research. We listen to the clicks passively and track them via a directional hydrophone. We can look for dive times and surface intervals, by looking at click patterns, by looking at when do the whales click and when do they stop clicking, which indicates that they are surfacing."
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March 15, 2001
'The Acoustic Realm of the Sperm Whale: Part I'
"We have been surveying a relatively unknown area in terms of whale and dolphin species, and have been thrilled to encounter several groups of sperm whales. Some have been in tight clusters of eight to ten animals, others spread out in small groups of three and four, as well as several individuals in loose associations. It has been particularly interesting to collect acoustic recordings, or vocalizations from these diverse groups, differing in compositions of abundance, sex and age."
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March 18, 2001
'The Acoustic Realm of the Sperm Whale - Part II'
"One would be hard pressed to encounter a more impressive animal than the adult male sperm whale, by any measure it is a most magnificent animal. The largest predator in the sea, he may reach lengths of over 60 ft (18m), he has nothing to fear and is the undisputed king of his ocean home."
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May 2, 2002
'Sustainable Rock Lobsters'
"In terms of the world's natural marine resources, we are obviously close to, and probably exceeding, the maximum global catch that it is possible to sustain. Stocks are currently in decline along every coastline, yet there are ever more humans to feed. Regardless of what direction you look the future appears grim, although we learned today that there is hope with one well managed fishery in Western Australia."
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September 10, 2002
'The Lives of Sea Turtles - Part 1 - Breeding'
"The crew has spent months researching the waters of the Indian Ocean between Western Australia and the Seychelles Archipelago where we often encountered marine turtles, both inshore and in the open ocean. Today we spoke with Dr. Jeanne Mortimer, a sea turtle ecologist working in the Seychelles."
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September 13, 2002
'The Lives of Sea Turtles - Part 2 - Lifecycle'
"In the last Odyssey log, Dr. Jeanne Mortimer discussed how sea turtles come to land in order to breed. Today, we learn more about the life cycle of sea turtles explore how they survive in the open ocean, where they go, and how long they stay at sea before returning to land."
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September 17, 2002
'The Lives of Sea Turtles - Part 3 - Threats'
"Sea Turtles have survived on our planet for more than 150 million years, however, they now require only but a nudge to be propelled forever into oblivion. Due to the increase in human pressures around the world, extinction is a serious possibility for most sea turtle populations. What can you do to help?"
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April 19, 2002
'Great White Sharks'
"The reputation of Great White Sharks has been sorely damaged through misrepresentation by the media and popular writers. The star of film and literature, the mere mention of this shark's name elicits terror in most peoples' minds. Such irresponsible publicity is unwarranted and has led to a rapid increases in the number of Great White sharks killed around the globe with the result that Great White sharks have recently been added to the Convention for the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list of endangered species. "
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August 9, 2001
'How Do Sperm Whales Produce Sound?'
"Sperm whales are highly acoustic animals that emit powerful, regular clicks almost continuously while they are underwater. In large males, up to one third of the entire body length is made up of the huge nose, the world's largest biological sound generator."
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August 7, 2001
'The Toxicant Build-up'
"The terms toxicants and toxins both refer to toxic substances. But toxins are natural products such as the ones found in poisonous mushrooms, or in a snakes' venom. Toxicants are man-made products, artificial products introduced into the environment due to human activity; examples are industrial waste products and pesticides."
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January 31, 2001
Global Warming
"The islands making up the nation of Kiribati, are low lying coral atolls, which, in the not-too-distant future, may well attain the much unwanted notoriety of being among one of the first countries to be affected disastrously, or destroyed entirely by the unavoidable rise in sea-level which scientists believe global warming will bring."
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May 29, 2002
'Farming Giant Clams'
"Recognition of globally declining stocks of giant clams prompted Paul Tod of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands to consider the potential for mariculture, a practice that once established is relatively low maintenance with high returns for both the environment and the producer."
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